In March, Las Fallas take over the city with non-stop fiestas, gigantic artistic monuments all around Valencia, amazing bonfires, lots of music and of course, food! The main days of the festival are between March 15th-19th. The last day is the famous part when the city is lit up with flames. But what is the meaning behind this tradition? Here’s some more info on the history of the festival…
The origins of the Fallas festival are rooted in commemorating the day of Saint Joseph (or San José), the saint of carpenters. This dates back to the 15th century when carpenters used wooden handles to hold up their lamps during winter. When spring was approaching and the days began to get longer, carpenters no longer needed their wooden poles.
Therefore, tradition would have it that in honor of their patron saint, San José, they decided to burn them on March 19th. It was symbolic of the winter coming to a close and the arrival of spring. In the festival we see today, this symbolic burning is represented in La cremà, taking place on March 19th respectively, the last day of the Fallas festival.
As with most traditions, the Fallas gradually evolved over time. They adopted a critical and ironic tone, displaying scenes of condemned social behaviors in their artwork.
The first Fallas Week was organized in 1932. Since then, the Fallas became the main festivity in the Valencia Region and were also included in UNESCO’s cultural heritage of humanity list on November 30th, 2016.
The Fallas Festival celebrates 5 main days, but also has other celebrations and events for almost a month leading up to March 19th.
Each neighborhood in the city has an organized group of people, all known as different «Fallas». These groups are the main organizers of the party and they are involved with all major events. They organize fundraising parties and dinners to raise money for the Fallas events.
One of the main parts of the festivals are the «Fallas monuments». Each group builds an artistic monument that they put up in their local neighborhood, as part of the city’s competition for the best «Falla» monument. These monuments are eventually burnt in the Cremá, the culmination of the festival.
Stay tuned for our future blog posts on each part of the Fallas festival and the events that are a must-see!