A beautiful falla in Valencia, Source: Unsplash

Valencia’s Fallas conclude with the cremà on the night of 19 March

Valencia’s Fallas conclude with the cremà on the night of 19 March

Read how Europe’s most grandiose springtime celebration has evolved throughout history

19 March is Saint Joseph’s Day, which Spanish people celebrate as Father’s Day. In the City of Valencia, however, this day is also probably the most awaited day on the calendar as it marks the grand conclusion of the legendary 5-day Fallas festivities.

During the day, Valencians may honour their dads but come nightfall, it’s time to burn, burn, burn those grand satirical floats, called fallas or falles, that gave the name of the festival. The act of the final burning is called the cremà in the local Valencian language.

It takes place on the night of 19 March, between 20:00 and 23:00, which means it is possible to see more than one falla burning.

There is an order to it, too. The first ones to go up in flames are the children’s falls (at 20:00), except the one placed at the City Hall Square. That one is lit at 21:00.

At 22:00 follows the cremá of all the fallas in Valencia, except for the first prize winner, which is lit at 22:30. The last falla to burn is the one located in the City Hall Square, at 23:00, in an event that attracts large crowds and brings the festival to a close.

Not everything gets destroyed in the fires though. The floats are made up of individual sculptures, called ninots, and tradition dictates that every year one ninot from each falla must be “pardoned” and preserved as a memory from that particular year.

This has been happening since 1934 and you can see the large and growing collection of ninots at the Fallas Museum in Valencia. There you can also find photographs, posters and all the information you could possibly ask for regarding the symbolism of the event.

What’s the origin of the Fallas?

And if you think the ninot collection is old, then you’ll be glad to find out that the Falles festivities are even much older. So much so that their origin is lost in the murky fogs of the past.

It likely evolved in the Middle Ages when with the arrival of spring the craftsmen of Valencia decided to get rid of wooden artefacts accumulated during the winter. Plus, it was a good way to mark the spring equinox, which points to even more ancient pagan links to the celebration.

The Catholic Church likely nudged the festivity to coincide with the day of Saint Joseph instead. Valencians, being humorous folk, however, decided to make it even more joyous by decorating the pieces of wood to resemble satirical figures and thus gradually the ninots and falles developed.

The festival has only been cancelled six times in its history, the last two of which in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid pandemic restrictions.



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