The origin of Fallas

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The Fallas are celebrated from the 14th of March with the “Planta” of the small fallas, until the 19th, when the fallas are burnt it is called the “cremà”. Yet the Fallas really start on the last Sunday of February, which is called la “cridà”, (the announcement or call).

The term falla holds its etymological origin from the Latin facula which means small torch. Though its exact  origin varies according to historians, the  most popular is the one from the Middle Age.

Indeed, in those days, carpenters piled up the wooden support that was used to hold their torch as well as scraps of wood on the pavements, in front of their workshops, and burnt them, thus forming a purifying fire, on Saint Joseph eve

(March, 19th).

Through the years, carpenters used the scraps of wood and little by little represented famous characters from the carpenters’ entourage, then those representations are going to become satirical.

It is not until the 18th Century that carpenters- to celebrate the festivity of their patron saint Joseph- start imagining and elaborating fallas that will be burnt on the 19th of March every year.

There are other beliefs defending the cult of the fire as a pagan tradition ritual such as Saint John’s or Saint Anthony where we burn bonfires on the eve. According to this theory, Fallas are an evolution of a ritual announcing the arrival of Spring.

Thus, we have a feast both pagan and religious as falleros and falleras, meet together at the Virgen Square and offer bouquets of carnations to the Virgen, with which the coat of the Virgen is made. The latter changes every year and is noteworthy.

At the origin made of wood, then reeds, papier-macher or pasteboard, the Fallas have become very colorful giant monuments and moulded around a wooden structure.

With a height of 65 to 100 feet for the big fallas, they are illustrated by tens of figurines (ninots, valencian term meaning doll).

The fallas are most of all the freedom of expression, excluding any censure, may it be politic, social, religious, or moral.

Politics whatever they are, local or international are never spared and often represented in comical situations. The royal family is often hauled over the coals.

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