FALLYAS – HOLIDAY OF FIRE AND FUN
The inhabitants of Valencia are famous for their love of the holidays and the ability to have fun. Holidays are distributed throughout the calendar, which allows you to celebrate them almost the whole year. Valencians are known for their noisiness and ability to create beauty. Not for nothing that in the Middle Ages the kings were received here with splendor and splendor, feasts were enlivened with fireworks, bullfights, a march of amusing carts. The Valencian festival is like a masquerade, as a collective cleansing from a monotonous everyday life. The fiesta in Valencia is almost uninterrupted – from the day of the winter solstice to the day of the autumn equinox. The arrival of spring and the day of the summer solstice is a time of great social revival, consonant with the awakening of nature and the onset of heat. The festive mood lasts a long time, from Christmas itself. Since the winter months, Valencians have been celebrating a series of festivals dedicated to fire, which calls for fertility in the fields. Bonfires burn everywhere, turning away evil spirits and any evil spirits, and protecting the property of residents. But Valencians are saving their strength for the main holiday – the fallas exploding with a carnival during Lent. Fallas is one of the most important holidays of the city of Valencia and the third most important in Spain. In addition to the capital, it is celebrated in almost all places of the autonomous community: Denia, Alsira, Gandia, Orihuela and others.
history of the holiday
Ever since the Prometheus fire was stolen from the gods, man has been praising, fearing and, at the same time, worshiping the power of fire; a fire that forever changes its appearance, all-consuming, afraid of only one thing – water, its eternal adversary. Throughout the existence of mankind, rituals have always existed, where the main element was fire, which symbolized renewal: to destroy old things in order to give life to new ones. Even today, during a holiday on the Mediterranean coast, you can see hundreds of bonfires into which old things or toys are thrown.
The origin of the fallas is still not known exactly. There are several versions. The most convincing and popular theory is that which says that at one time on March 19, Valencian joiners burned bonfires from the remaining tree in honor of their patron Saint Joseph. Another version says that the fallas originates from the fire, which was a symbol of the coming summer. And, starting from the period of Christianization, the significance and function of this holiday has already been transferred to the celebration of the saints who fell on these dates. And finally, the third version tells us about the “parot” figure – a toy that personified a character, and which was then thrown into the fire. These days, this version explains the satirical nature of the characters.
There is no documented information about the origin of fallas in the folk tradition. The first mention dates back to the second half of the 18th century. At this time, the first municipal laws had already appeared, which regulated the establishment of figures in a certain place, in order to avoid possible fires. Since the 19th century, documentary information about the fallas is becoming more and more.
Nevertheless, the holiday of past times was different from the forms of its holding today. Previously, they were celebrated on the eve of the day of veneration of St. Joseph: the figures were installed on March 18 and burned that night. The construction resembled a theater: wooden scaffolds, on which various figures-characters were depicted, depicting a scene. Back then, dolls were made of wood with cardboard masks, while now the base is made of wood, and the doll is made of papier-mâché or cardboard.
Since the end of the 19th century, the holiday has acquired a certain scope and strength. The number of conducted fallas increases significantly from year to year: if only one holiday was held in 1852, then in 1872 there were already 16. Since 1866, pyrotechnics are becoming more and more interesting, bulletins of each fallas appear, families and friends form commissions who organize and monitor the holiday. Since 1873, the culmination of the real fallas “la crema”, which is celebrated on the night of March 19, is gradually being introduced. The city authorities are trying to control the organization of the holiday and in 1851 they introduced a special permit for the installation of figures, and since 1872 a certain fee for holding it. In 1851, censorship was instituted to conduct fallas, in order to control criticism of the political and social sphere, as well as the moral principles of society. As a result, this control and pressure led to the disappearance at the festival of old decorations and trash.
At the end of the 19th century, the fallas became the most popular holiday in Valencia. Both their number and geography are growing. Figures made from new materials are becoming larger and more interesting in their composition. In this regard, the cultural society “Lo Rat Pentat” suggested celebrating the best fallas with prizes, which was done by the mayor’s office in 1901.
The thirties of our century became the very moment when the Valencian holiday began to gain international fame, on the initiative of the committee of participants in the fallas, the main council for holding