Good news for all the ‘falleros’ of the Valencian Community. This year, Las Fallas, the annual street festival known among other things for its giant puppets, will be held in a reduced form from 1 to 5 September.
Las Fallas is a traditional festival in honour of Saint Joseph (19 March) held every year in Valencia. Neighbourhoods or associations work together to create enormous puppets. These puppets often tell stories in a humorous or cynical manner about the state of the Spanish or global economy, society, or politics. The puppets are scattered throughout the city and are often over twenty metres high. Some smaller puppets are made for children.
A spanner in the works
The pandemic put a spanner in the works last year and this March. After a meeting with representatives from the Fallas world, Councillor of Health Ana Barceló gave the green light on Monday afternoon for the festival to go ahead in September. Until then, vaccination rates will only increase and people will be more protected against the coronavirus. An earlier proposal, to organise the Fallas in July, was dismissed due to ‘delays in the vaccination rate’.
An important condition is to avoid large groups, both in the streets and inside. On Wednesday, a proposal for a limited celebration will be presented to the General Assembly of the governing body of the festival in Valencia.
The ‘planta infantil’, the collection of the smaller puppets, is expected to start on the night of 31 August to 1 September. The association also wants to see if and how ‘la ofrenda’ can continue. La ofrenda is the flower sacrifice, and ‘an essential part’ of the festivities. Nearly all 400 Fallas associations come to the Plaza de la Virgin in Valencia to offer a flower sacrifice to the Virgin of the Needy.
Another important tradition of Las Fallas is the burning of the statues (fallas). During ‘La crema’ on the last day, all fallas are set on fire, thus ending the festivities.
With some precautions, these activities should be feasible without major virus outbreaks. Moreover, each committee will appoint a Covid-19 coordinator.
Whether the mascleta, the deafening fireworks display in Valencia‘s town hall square, can go ahead, remains to be seen. Hope is pinned on the vaccine: if Spain is in a better position, the mascleta might yet go ahead.