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Falles (in Catalan) or Fallas (in Spanish) is a Valencian tradition which celebrates Saint Joseph's Day (March 19th) in Valencia, Spain. Each neighborhood of the city has an organized group of people, the Casal Faller, that works all year long holding fundraising parties and dinners, usually featuring the famous regional specialty paella, and of course much music and laughter.

Formerly, much time would also be spent at the Casal Faller preparing the ninot (Valencian for puppet or doll) for the Falles. During the week leading up to March 19th, each group take it's single favorite ninot out for a grand parade, and then mounts it, each on it's own elaborate firecracker-filled cardboard and papier-mâché artistic monument in a street of the given neighborhood - this complete assembly being the Falla proper. Falles has since grown considerably.

On the final night of Falles, at midnight on March 19th, these falles are burned (cremà) as huge bonfires. The ninots and their falles are developed according to an agreed upon theme that was, and continues to be a satyric jab at anything or anyone unlucky enough to draw the attention of the critical eyes of the Fallers - the celebrants themselves. In modern times, the whole two week long festival has spawned a huge local industry, to the point that an entire suburban area has been designated the City of Falles - Ciudad Fallera. Here, crews of artists and artisans, sculptors, painters, and many others all spend months producing elaborate constructions, richly absurd paper and wax, wood and styrofoam tableaux towering up to five stories, composed of fanciful figures in outrageous poses arranged in gravity defying architecture, each produced at the direction of the many individual neighborhood Casals faller who vie with each to attract the best artists, and then to create the most outrageous monument to their target. There are more than 180 different fallas in Valencia, including those of other towns in the Valencian Community.

The days and nights in Valencia are one running party during the two weeks of Falles. There are processions galore - processions historical, processions religious, and processions hysterical. The restaurants spill out to the streets. Firecrackers are everywhere.

Every day at noon, the mascletà (an explosive display of the concussive effects of coordinated firecracker and fireworks barrages) is king, and the crowds gather from all corners to the main plaza, the Plaça de l'Ajuntament, to hear one of the lovely maidens (dressed in her fallera finery) call from the balcony of the City Hall "Mr. Pyrotechnic, you may light the fuses!!". Suddenly the plaza rips with a pyrotecnic display designed to showcase the concussive effects of the pyrotechnics arts - something rarely seen outside the battlefield. For a half an hour or better, the crowd rocks with each explosion, great billowing clouds rise up, and the air is filled with the smoke from all the black powder. Smaller neighborhoods have their own mascletaes for Falles, but also for other saint days, and for weddings and other celebrations as well, as any reason will do as an excuse for young men jump through the fires.

During Falles, many people from the neighborhood casal faller dress in the regional costumes from different eras of Valencia's history - the fife and drum are frequently heard, even bagpipes, as most of the different casals fallers have their own traditional bands that demonstrate the Celtiberian roots of Spain, a real Celtic connection that surprises many visitors.

A similar tradition happens in Alicante the night before June 24 (St John Baptist's day), the Hogueras de san Juan.


It is thought that the Falles started in the Middle Ages, when artisans put out their broken artifacts and pieces of wood that they have sotred during the winter and burned them to celebrate the spring equinox.

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