Origin, history | Origen, historia | Origem, história
Historically, the Fallas festivity preserved the Valencian language when it was frowned upon or even prohibited.
The Valencian FALLAS festivity from 14 to 19 March is a celebration of rituals and traditions involving the creation and the destruction by fire of a central element called the "falla" monument.
Fallas Commissions in each neighbourhood create a large-scale catafalque or "falla", around which rituals are performed: street parades with music bands or traditional instruments, flower offerings to the Patron Saint, outdoor culinary events for sharing food, mostly “paella”. Falleros dress in traditional costumes and stage fireworks and pyrotechnical activities. There are night-time gatherings in Fallas “houses [casals] for meals and entertainment.
The "falla" is an ephemeral construction built over a period of various months leading up to the festivity by Fallas artists and craftsmen (painters, sculptors and carpenters) and it is burned to ashes in a bonfire on the evening of St. Joseph's Day, March 19th, symbolising the coming of Spring.
Thanks to the continuity of these festive rituals, a series of traditional and cultural practices with which the Valencian people are identified have been safeguarded over the years.
The FALLAS festivity provides a source of collective creativity and its conservation ensures the continuity of traditional “falla” building skills (construction, painting, decoration, erection), answering a social need for a sense of identity, and upholding traditional arts and crafts (costume, hairstyling, adornment, processionary techniques, flower arrangement, etc.) that would otherwise disappear.
The “falla” monument itself has a satirical character allowing for social, cultural and moral criticism, giving rise to a particular kind of literature (llibrets) in the vernacular language that would otherwise find no outlet.
The cultural meaning of the incineration of the monument is a form of purification, Spring cleaning and social renewal. Caricature figurines called “ninots” included in the “falla” act as scapegoats or sacrificial lambs of Valencian society. Their destruction by fire symbolises the renewal of social life. This element acts as an identifier that helps Valencians to reinforce social cohesion, at home and wherever they settle as emigrants. It gives them a sense of identity of which they are proud.
The festivity itself propitiates communication amongst different age groups and genders. Children participate in significant ways bringing about early socialisation in the mechanisms of transmission of the Fallas ritual. The artistic "falla" monument propitiates communication and dialogue amongst citizens. Symbolically, the material strivings of a whole year (contributions in money) are wantonly reduced to ashes to celebrate the arrival of a new season, enhancing the social life of each neighbourhood.