Burned to the ground, 2019


I was stateside during all of the festivities surrounding Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain this year, but El Guapo sent me some pictures so that I could share some with you. It seems a little odd to think that all the sculptures you see here were torched last night, becoming acrid smoke and twisted bits of this and that, and were all swept away this morning, along with hundreds of thousands of firecracker carcasses and the trash that results from a week of hundreds of thousands of people diligently revelling.

First, we have the ninots, individual figures that form part of a larger ensemble in one of the 400 or so neighborhoods of Valencia. Some are roughly life size, and others are closer to bushel-basket size. They’re all displayed in a hall of the Museum of Science until a few days before the official city-wide installation date, March 15th.



























Because El Guapo left to come see us for Spring break, his photos of the huge fallas are limited to shots taken while things were getting installed, but it will give you an idea. Look at links below for some of the most amazing sculptures of previous years.


An “infantil,” a small scale companion ensemble near the larger main event creation





The main failla in the city center, still missing a few vital elements











It can be hard for those of us not used to the celebration to understand how people can work so hard on such amazing creations and then cheer as they’re all burned to the ground. My dear friends Dale and Aida sent me a short video with some Fallas highlights this year, whose message, roughly translated, is something like this: “So that life can be born anew, you have to burn all that you have, because only out of the ashes of what was can something new be born.” It ended with some rapid-fire admonitions: Enjoy it–Live it–Feel it–Burn it!



If Las Fallas is unfamiliar to you, you can learn more by looking at some of the posts I’ve done on various aspects of the festival over the past several years, which can be found by putting Fallas in the search bar, or clicking on Las Fallas in the tag cloud. Here is my roundup from last year (with many pictures), as well as a couple of other posts, including facets of Las Fallas, and a bunch of pictures from the ninot exhibit of 2018. I outlined many aspects of the phenomenon in an earlier post, here.

As all of Valencia cleans up after their giant party, locals will be thinking of all kinds of new things in the year to come. What new things are coming up for you?

[Images: El Guapo]

2 thoughts on “Burned to the ground, 2019

  1. Great parallel. I bet much of the same thinking can be traced in both traditions. Though a pile of mud-colored sand is a lot easier on the environment that styrofoam fumes, I’m sure.

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