The Fallas were born out of the very heart of the people, of a life under blue skies and sunshine, of quiet romantic nights spent in gardens, of a simple and modest lifestyle.
With the arrival of spring and longer days, the night work was
over and they burnt their rustic lamps in front of the workshops.
It is easy to believe that the craftsmen used sawdust and old
pieces of wood as well as old pieces of furniture to feed the
fire. Moreover, the standing lamp posts lent themselves easily
to hang old clothes on to give them a human aspect. An old hat
would make for an imaginary head. This is how the ninots (figures
made for the Fallas) were born.
Eventually, these dummies were put on pedestals so that the people could see them more easily and laugh at them. When this happened, the real Valencian Falla was conceived. The fiesta developed in the second half of the eighteenth century. Nowadays, the figures are ephemeral and satirical catafalques representing human figures, animals and plants, etc. exhibited in the streets and plazas to "comment upon" current events, controversies, or a naughty neighbourhood story in a humorous way. All of these elements, materials and satires form the firewood for the gigantic and purifying bonfires that flare up at midnight on March 19, the night of Saint Joseph.
This fire is a fiesta, the joyous and overwhelming exaltation of all the other celebrations that precede it during the week of festivities that is known as the Semana Fallera (Fallas Week).
The mascletaes begin on March 1st in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento preparing the festive atmosphere, although the most important part of the fiesta begins on March 16. At 8 o'clock in the morning on that day, the 700 monuments must be installed in the streets and plazas. There are various activities held throuhout the week; despertás, fireworks etc..
The most spectacular and frequented celebration is the Ofrenda de flores (offering of flowers) to the Virgen de los Desamparados. The procession takes place on March 17 and 18, beginning at four o'clock in the afternoon and going on until the early hours of the morning. The falleras have a chance to show off their colourful and attractive regional dresses, as they carry bouquets of flowers through the streets which lead to their Patron Saint.