The Fallas

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La Crema: 19th of March St Joseph’s day

On the night of the 19th of March, St Joseph’s day, the festival reaches its conclusion; the music ends and the last firecrackers announce that it is all over for another year. A year of anticipation and effort is purified and laid to rest through the flames of the bonfires. The falleros stand and contemplate the scene as the fire devours the works of art that were created to be destroyed. The visitor experiences a strange sensation of fascination and understanding of why the fallas must be burnt. The fallero is already planning for next year’s festival; the visitor is planning to come back.

The Fallas CremaAs a festival for all the senses, the Fallas culminate with the "Cremà", or burning of all the monuments, on 19th March. This fire ritual consumes a whole year of work, a whole year of dreams. At ten o'clock the children's fallas are set to the torch, amidst music and fireworks. At midnight, Valencia astonishes the entire world each year by burning its street monuments to ashes, ending with the fallas in the "special section", whose budgets are in the range of many thousands of euros.

Throughout the city fireworks are set off and the flames consume the gigantic figurines as onlookers stand in silence, with eyes reflecting the red flames, amid crackling red-hot wood and showering sparks and thick smoke.

Valencia is enveloped in a weird reddish-grey gloom, yet the music still plays, and more than a few eyes shed tears as the last farewells are said to the monumental spring offering.

This wholesale incineration culminates in the burning of the main falla in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, much to the surprise of both national and European television channels, whose announcers always seem to ask "how is this possible – so much time and energy all gone up in smoke?". This is simply yet another traditional quirk of the Valencians, channelling their craftsmanship into an event of international status; people who are in love with aesthetics, beauty, fireworks and music; people who outdo the ancient Greeks and Romans in pageantry; people who see the ironic side of life through their "ninots" yet allow the flames to consume them in a homage to spring.

Following the night of 19th March, after having sown the sky with silvery palm trees, with fountains of gold and fuchsia, with blue hearts and rich red flowers, and after the signs of fire have been washed away from the asphalt, and the silence of normality reigns once again, Valencia wakes up to a new morning and already starts thinking about the fallas it will build the coming spring. It's spring renewal with a style of its own.

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