Monday, 15 April 2013

Las Fallas y San Patricio

I've fallen slightly behind in my blog posts due to general exhaustion and laziness in equal measures. Since I last posted I have visited 4 more places in Spain but this post will only deal with one of those places: Valencia.

 My friend Kieran is doing the same job as I am, but in a Valencian secondary school. I went to stay with him not only to see one of Spain's most famous festivals, Las Fallas, but also so we could celebrate St Paddy's day together. It was one of my favourite weekends in Spain and I would DEFINITELY consider visiting Spain again, solely for Fallas (although not if it coincides with Paddys again, can't be missing that).

Las Fallas takes place in memory of St Joseph and the surrounding cities tend to have similar, smaller celebrations. Las Fallas is both the name of the monuments and of the festival. The statues are huge comical looking figures which are built by the various barrios of the city; some are huge while others are slightly smaller. They are always a satirical comment on current day Spain, normally throwing jabs at politics or religion. Some are cute, some are downright vulgar. At the end of the five day period, the Fallas are burnt all across the city. It's claimed that it started when people took their old furniture to the fields and burned them to celebrate the Spring equinox.

The party itself is enormous. The streets are full to the brim, drinking on the street ceases to be illegal and there are street vendors everywhere. Every day the 'mascelta' is held outside the city hall at midday, which is basically a deafening firework display, and each night more firework displays are held at midnight. However these aren't the fireworks you have to watch out for. Everyone told me before I went to Valencia that I needed to keep my wits about me- good advice! All over the place people are setting off 'cohetes' on the street. Mostly it's children but the parents fully encourage them to do so! After a while you get used to huge bangs around you, and keeping an eye out for little flames on the pavement. There are also parades and women dressed in traditional Valencian dress. These women are called 'Falleras' and they are respected guests at many of the more famous performances. Later in the week they offer flowers to the statue of the Virgin Mary.

Unfortunately I wasn't there long enough to see the burning but I did get a good enough taste of the festival to know that I absolutely love it. It was a great location to celebrate Saint Patrick's day as well- irish bars, people in Guinness hats and ridiculous amounts of drinking- just like home (almost).

A fantastic, mad, loco Spanish festival which cannot be missed it you find yourself in the country at that time.

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