Great balls of fire! Valencia celebrates Las Fallas
I love a good effigy-burning, so I should really be in Valencia this week for their annual Las Fallas (or Falles in Valencian). A whole week of celebrations that leads up to la crema--the burning--with lots of singing, eating and drunking between. We need some falla action around these parts; might make the rain a little more bearable.
Las Fallas is undoubtedly one of the most unique and crazy festivals in Spain (a country known for unique and crazy festivals). What started as a feast day for St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters, has evolved into a 5-day, multifaceted celebration of fire. Valencia is usually a quiet city with a population of a half-million, but the town swells to an estimated three million flame-loving revelers during Las Fallas.
Las Fallas literally means "the fires" in Valencian. The focus of the fiesta is the creation and destruction of ninots--huge cardboard, wood and plaster statues--that are placed at over 350 key intersections and parks around the city today. The ninots are extremely lifelike and usually depict bawdy, satirical scenes and current events (lampooning corrupt politicians and Spanish celebrities is particularly popular). They are crafted by neighborhood organizations and take about six months to construct (and often cost upwards of US$75,000). Many ninots are several stories tall and need to be moved into position with cranes.