February 27, 2012

Fallas 2012 Has Officially Commenced!: Videos and Important Terms and Dates

As of yesterday, Fallas season has officially started! Sunday very early in the morning falleros from all over the city congregated at Carrer de la Pau to toss their hand fireworks for the first "despertà". At 2PM the Valencian Ayuntamiento hosted the first official "mascletà". (Starting Thursday, March 1st there will be a mascletà every day all week long at 2PM in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento up to and including March 19th!) And then Sunday late afternoon there was "la cridà" ceremony, including sky acrobats and fireworks, formally inaugurating Fallas.

The 2010 Na Jordana falla, which you can see burned below.

I've already given you a rundown with photos of many of the different elements of Fallas (part 1 and part 2). If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a video worth? Here I include three videos I recorded back in 2010 of major Fallas features.

• Mascletà, Day 2 of Fallas 2010, Valencia:

We enjoy going to the mascletàs (an aural fireworks show). This video was of Day 2 (March 2, 2010). If you are wondering why the video starts to shake towards the end, that is a combination of the vibrations from the gunpowder explosions, and my hand shaking as I tried to determine which was more important, the video or my hearing!

• Pre-cremà fireworks show, Torres de Serranos Falla:

Every falla does a pre-burning fireworks show. Imagine, within the fifteen minutes after midnight there are 700 near simultaneous miniature fireworks shows! (Well, actually, many casals coordinate their schedules, staggering the cremà of nearby fallas so that you can tour around and see more than one burning on the final night.)

Rather than show you the 5-minute Na Jordana fireworks show, which was admittedly pretty impressive, I've uploaded this shorter video of the fireworks show that the falla next to the Torres de Serranos gave shortly after the Na Jordana cremà. The show itself was not as elaborate, but it is pretty cool to see it next to Valencia's iconic Towers.

• La cremà de Falla Na Jordana, midnight March 19, 2010:

This is the video I took of the burning of the Na Jordana fallas, one of the top ten biggest fallas in Valencia that year. According to Valencians' high standards, it was not a "successful" cremà, since it took almost two minutes for the flames to really envelope the falla. Still it was quite impressive.

Author's thoughts: One problem with watching the burning of these large fallas (as opposed to smaller more local fallas), which you may notice, is that there are more foreigners than locals in the audience. On the van are a bunch of rowdy Americans. And note the moment around minute 3, right when the firemen aim their water hoses, when the crowd almost bolted because the inexperienced people thought that the bonfire had gotten out of control.

I highly recommend you check out my posts on Fallas at The Spain Scoop.

I've been guest posting at The Spain Scoop a four-part series on Fallas. Two posts are already up, and I include here for you some useful information from them. The first entry has a dictionary of Fallas terms:

Fallas dictionary of terms: 
Falla: The festival Fallas is named for the large papier-mâché art statues called a “falla”, a Valencian word whose latin roots link back to fire. These art displays originated as piles of old furniture that were set out on the streets and burned as part of spring cleaning. They have evolved a lot since those modest 19th-century roots.  
Ninot: This is the Valencian word for each paper-mâché puppet or figurine. A large falla might contain hundreds of ninots. They will all be burned on March 19th except for one ninot from the 1st-place falla, which is saved and placed in the Fallas museum.
Fallero/fallera (mayor, infantil): These are the people who make it all happen. You will see them in tents nearby the fallas during Fallas, celebrating with their families and neighborhood friends, and parading through the streets in traditional attire on their way to the Virgin with their flower ofrenda. There are two females, falleras, chosen each year to be the main representatives for each casal faller, a young one about 8 years old who is the fallera infantil, and another around 20-30 years old who is the fallera mayor. 
Casal faller: This the local neighborhood committee of "falleros" who spend the entire year preparing their street’s falla. There are hundreds of these casals, each with their own independent falla and neighborhood festivities. 
Mascletà: This is what I've taken to explaining as a "sound fireworks show", since it is more about the noise it makes than lighting up the sky. (Indeed, they are usually done during the day.) The city will do an official mascletà once a day during the festivities, but each casal faller will also have a neighborhood one at least once during the week of Fallas. 
Petardo: This is the Spanish word for hand-fireworks, and you will be hearing a ton of them throughout the week of Fallas. It is not uncommon to see groups of kids in plazas setting them off. Masclets are the very, very loud ones, which resemble (in sound) a bomb going off and can set off car alarms and wake the whole neighborhood. 
Traca: This is the word for those strings of fireworks where you set off one and it triggers a series of small snapping fireworks. On la nit de la cremà, the burning of most fallas will be initiated by a traca string of fireworks. 
Castillo: Though it literally means “castle” in Spanish, this is also the word for a fireworks show in the sky. There is at least one official castillo each night the week of Fallas, normally around or just after midnight over the riverbed. Again, each casal will have its own castillo in the neighborhood, usually the last night.
Calendar of important events: 
February 26th (last Sunday of Feb.)La despertà (“the awakening,” a collective hand-fireworks event with all the city’s falleros) at 7:30AM on Calle de la Paz, and La Cridà (which means “the call”, the opening ceremonies with all the falleras mayores, followed by a fireworks show) at Torres de Serranos early evening… These two events formally open the Fallas season.
March 1–19th:   Each day at 2PM, in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento, a public mascletà is held.March 15th:  La plantà, when each neighborhood mounts its falla, officially inaugurating the public viewing and street festivities.
March 16th & 17th:  La ofrenda, falleros from different neighborhoods, at different times and places throughout the afternoon, parade to the Plaza de la Virgen to place their “offering” to the Virgin Mary.
March 16th, 17th, 18th: Castillos, a.k.a. fireworks shows, at midnight to 1AM, or so. The show on the 18th is the big one, called La nit del foc, the night of fire.
March 19th: La nit de la cremà, the night of the burning, when all the falleros across town burn their falla. (In a later entry I’ll explain the traditional procedure and schedule.)
The third and fourth posts at The Spain Scoop, not yet up, will direct you to the best fallas to see and give a day itinerary. I'll post that information for you once they come out.

Things are heating up, people are feeling festive, and fireworks are going off all the time and all over the place. It's exciting. It's Valencia. Hail Fallas 2012!


Tumbit - Mr Grumpy said...

Lots of loud bangs around the clock, no doubt

Falla Na Jordana said...

Thank you for your comments about Falla Na Jordana. You can follow us on twitter: @najordana

An Expat in Spain said...

Mr. Grumpy: Yes. Lots and lots of "pum" or "bam", as locals might say. It's still slow, but I'm sure starting March 1st, we'll be hearing kids setting off masclets in plazas all over the city.

Falla Na Jordana, thanks for posting your twitter. I'm now following you there, and I very much look forward to seeing your falla in a couple of weeks (themed around Leonardo Da Vinci, correct?). To all readers: Na Jordana is a "must see" falla, always spectacular, and always creative.

Tumbit - Mr Grumpy said...

Hemmingway, no word of a lie here - I made my 1st ever venture into Valencia yesterday to take the Mrs to some Hospital somewhere (Nou D'Octubre ..? ) and decided to treat her to lunch before we got on the train back from Valencia Nord.
- You can imagine my amusement at being 'trapped' in the Plaza d'Ayuntamiento whilst the Mascletas went off and the crowd (whatever they were looking at) cheered as the decibel-meter weent higher and higher. Oh the fun.
Nice City though, I should (and will) make the effort to return.

An Expat in Spain said...

Mr. Grumpy, there's a moment during every mascletà, normally around minute 4, where you think, "Wow! Okay, this is quite loud." And then it gets louder, and you think, "You have got to be kidding. Even louder?" And then right around the last 15 seconds, when you are wondering whether blood is trickling out your ears, you realize, "I see, this _must_ be the finale." And afterwards while everyone else is cheering, I'm trying to determine whether I've permanently damaged my ears. Who couldn't love that? Fallas!

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