Fallas footnotes:* flowers and flames

 

Throughout Valencia this week an enormous crew of cleaners has been methodically sweeping up all kinds of detritus–spent firecracker remains, broken glass, ashes, and confetti. I’ve got a few odds and ends to clean up as well, like a post or two that I intended to bring to you about Las Fallas.

There’s so much going on for Las Fallas that it always feels to me like I can either go out and see things or I can talk about all the things, but there isn’t time to do both. I try to strike a balance. So far this month I’ve brought you these three posts about this all-consuming festival. Before I leave it, I’ll include some photos of L’Ofrena, the offering of amazing floral arrangements brought by various celebrants to honor the Virgin of the Destitute,† as well as some video of La Cremà, the late-night burning of the sculptures that are the centerpiece of the whole festival.

First of all, a couple of views of the huge statue of La Virgen. The body of the structure is a wooden framework, sort of like lath, awaiting the thousands of flower bouquets whose stems will be stuck in between the slats to form a cape of flowers.

 

This year the cape border of red carnations was decorated with bouquets of a lot of different flowers:

Behind the statue there’s a low platform covered in flowers, a sort of floral patio.

 

And now for the arrangements, carried in on palanquins by costumed bearers. The flowers are ranged around a fountain in front of the basilica, and you’ll see from the photos why terms like “profusion” and “riot of color,” not to say “chaos” come to mind.

 

 

 

 

There was also a literal wall of flowers leaning against the basilica:

 

After the flowers, the flames. El Guapo took video of the burning of the Falla Infantil (junior sculpture) in a nearby neighborhood, which is burned at 10 pm, so the kids can see it before bedtime (from what I have observed of Spanish bedtimes, this fits right in).

We went later to a neighborhood a little further from our house to see the burning of the Falla Mayor. For future reference, I’ll do my best to remember that when a huge structure is going to go up in flames before me, I should make sure I’m not backed up against a building so that there’s someplace to retreat from the scorching heat.

The burning of the big falla took a really long time, so El Guapo’s video is a sped-up version, complete with an introduction of both sound and light fireworks.

Both the city and I have put Las Fallas to bed for another season. There’s bound to be a lot of activity in the next few weeks as various creative geniuses get started on plans for Las Fallas 2018. Myself, I’m glad to be able to walk around outside without fearing the sounds of unexpected explosions, and I’ll just hang onto that for a while.

 

*I couldn’t resist having a footnote to the word footnote. Of course, there’s nothing remotely footnote-like about either the Ofrena spectacle or the burning of the Fallas. Hundreds of elaborately costumed Valencians (plus scores of marching bands) parading in with flower arrangements the size of bathtubs takes two full days, and the Cremà of nearly 800 sculptures throughout the city is the biggest kind of finale. But as my photos of them come after the end of the weeks-long event, and as I have difficulty resisting alliteration, I think the label works.

†The Castellano is La Virgen de Los Desamparados, Virgin of the Destitute (or unprotected.) I think it’s more commonly rendered in English as Our Lady of the Forsaken.

[Images: yours truly]

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