The Falles (in Valencian) are a Valencian traditional celebration in praise of Saint Joseph in Valencia, Spain. The term Falles refers to both the celebration and the monuments created during the celebration.
Each neighbourhood of the city has an organized group of people, the Casal faller, that works all year long holding fundraising parties and dinners, usuallyfeaturing the famous speciality paella. Each casal faller produces a construction known as a falla which is eventually burnt. A casal faller is also known as a comissió fallera.
The name of the festival is thus the plural of falla. The word's derivation is as follows:
falla ← Vulgar Latin *facla ← Latin facula (diminutive) ← Latin fax, "torch".
Falles & ninots
Formerly, much time would also be spentat the Casal Faller preparing the ninots (Valencian for puppets or dolls). During the week leading up to 19 March, each group takes its ninot out for a grand parade, and then mounts it, each on its own elaborate firecracker-filled cardboard and papier-mâché artistic monument in a street of the given neighborhood. This whole assembly is a falla.
The ninots and their falles are developed accordingto an agreed upon theme that was, and continues to be a satirical jab at anything or anyone unlucky enough to draw the attention of the critical eyes of the fallers — the celebrants themselves. In modern times, the whole two week long festival has spawned a huge local industry, to the point that an entire suburban area has been designated the City of Falles — Ciutat fallera. Here, crews ofartists and artisans, sculptors, painters, and many others all spend months producing elaborate constructions, richly absurd paper and wax, wood and styrofoam tableaux towering up to five stories, composed of fanciful figures in outrageous poses arranged in gravity-defying architecture, each produced at the direction of the many individual neighbourhood Casals faller who vie with each to attract thebest artists, and then to create the most outrageous monument to their target. There are more than 500 different falles in Valencia, including those of other towns in the Valencian Community.
During Falles, many people from their casal faller dress in the regional costumes from different eras of Valencia's history — the dulzaina and drum are frequently heard, as most of the different casals fallershave their own traditional bands.
Although the Falles are a very traditional event and many participants dress in medieval clothing, the ninots for 2005 included such modern characters as Shrek and George W. Bush.
Events During Falles
La despertà: a brass band marches through a small street in the early morning.
Falleres in their dresses march with the band.
The days and nights inValencia are one running party during the five days of Falles. There are processions galore — historical processions, religious processions, and hysterical processions. The restaurants spill out to the streets. Explosions can be heard all day long and sporadically through the night. Foreigners may be surprised to see everyone from small children to elderly gentlemen throwing fireworks and bangers in thestreets, which are littered with pyrotechnical débris.
Each day of Falles begins at 8am with la despertà ("the wake-up call"). Brass bands will appear from the casals and begin to march down every road playing lively music. Close behind them are the fallers throwing large firecrackers in the street as they go.
The crowd gathers For Mascleta!!
The Mascletà, anexplosive display of the concussive effects of co-ordinated firecracker and fireworks barrages, takes place in each neighbourhood at 2 pm every day of the festival; the main event is the municipal Mascleta in the Plaça de l'Ajuntament where the pyrotechnicians compete for the honour of providing the final Mascleta of the fiestas (on March 19th). At 2pm the clock chimes and the Fallera Mayor (dressed...