Audio guide for children’s monument 2024

English

Hello dear visitor!

We are the commission of Falla Raval. We want you to fully enjoy the falla monument that we have created this year. That’s why we have created this audio guide in different languages, so you don’t miss any detail. We also want to help you understand the complicated concept of the FALLAS. The fallas are the traditional Valencian festivals. But we also use the same name to refer to the artistic monuments made of wood, cardboard, and cork that adorn our streets. In addition, the FALLAS encompass many other concepts: Art, Passion, Tradition, Gastronomy, Music, Celebration, Gunpowder, Light, Color, and Spirituality.

That being said, let’s first take you on a tour of the monument we have erected this year, and then, if you’d like to continue listening, we’ll explain the origin of the fallas, trivia, and much more about these festivals declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

 

This year our children’s monument has the motto «nature is the art you choose to care for.» Two young bees have become homeless because of human actions in nature. Now they fly in search of a new hive where they can live, and they have found this one, in Falla Raval. With fear, they first want to observe if it is a good place to live, and at that moment, Mrs. Giraffe discovers them. It’s very strange to see Mrs. Giraffe wearing a scarf, but climate change has made temperatures crazy. The giraffe tells the bees that for now, this is a good city to live in, but human actions are also destroying it. That’s why they come to an agreement where the bees can live here, but they will have to give advice on how to do it so that this city does not end up destroyed like their old home. And now we will accompany the bees to explore this hive where we will find different children and animals that are doing things right, but also others that are doing things wrong. This is where we need to raise awareness and stop to choose with knowledge, because nature is the art that we all choose to care for.

«Now, if you have time, you can continue listening to curiosities about the Fallas.»

The festival of Fallas has fire as its soul. All festivals that feature fire as the protagonist can be related to solar rituals. Since time immemorial, in many places in Europe, Asia, and Africa, the arrival of equinoxes and solstices (the beginning of the seasons) has been celebrated by lighting bonfires. These manifestations, in some cases, have been inherited from ancient peoples and linked to solar ceremonies and purification rituals, and some of them have survived to this day. The Catholic Church, unable to suppress these popular traditions in many parts of Spain, decided to absorb them and dedicate them to the saints; thus, the midsummer bonfires became associated with Saint John and those of the spring equinox with Saint Joseph. For this reason, some historians believe that Fallas are actually a very ancient custom in Valencia, which began as spring fires and evolved into the satirical monuments that we know today.

One explanation for the origin of Fallas is linked to Saint Joseph and the carpentry guild. On the eve of his feast day, Saint Joseph’s Day, carpenters took the opportunity to clean their workshops and took out onto the streets the unusable wood scraps, which were piled up artistically. The rest of the neighbors also brought out their useless items to adorn the wood brought out by the carpenters.

From this tradition, over the years Valencians have been creating increasingly beautiful and elaborate monuments. This custom has spread and taken on a satirical and burlesque character in which public figures and prominent events from the previous year are symbolically and caricaturedly depicted; representing different scenes that were elaborated as part of the falla. From this emerged in Valencia a profession that is unique in the world, that of the «fallero artist». This is when the creation of the falla becomes professionalized and reaches extreme artistic levels because the «fallero artist» is already another genius, shaping figures with a base of wood, cork, and polyester and is capable of creating works of art that combine architecture, sculpture, painting, and ingenuity. Especially ingenuity, as every year, the more than 2,000 falla monuments made throughout the Valencian region are authentic, different, and unique. Fallas range from 5 to 30 meters in height (with some exceeding 40 meters) and are filled with scenes and «ninots» (dolls).

What’s curious about these festivals is not only that Valencians set up huge works of art in the street, blocking off streets as if the world stopped, only to set them on fire a few days later as a sign of leaving behind everything from the previous year, to welcome spring and whatever the rest of the year may bring; but also that during Fallas week, Valencia and its cities, like Cullera, look extraordinary.

A special characteristic of Fallas is being able to see the impressive fallera dresses worn by proud Valencian women in the streets. These are beautiful dresses and are considered the most expensive regional costumes in the world due to the fabrics from which they are made: silk sewn with gold and silver thread. The most striking accessory of this attire is the bun with comb that adds even more beauty to the Valencian woman. This typical dress originated in the 16th century as clothing for humble farmworkers who copied elements from the Court. All the pieces merge into a dress full of details and colors that make the Valencian woman stand out and become one of the most striking and beautiful regional costumes in the world.

Fallas cannot be understood without gunpowder. The Valencian is a fanatical lover of gunpowder. In fact, during Fallas week, it is very common for falleros to go out at dawn and set off loud and intense rockets in their neighborhoods, intending to wake up all the falleras so they can get up and put on their traditional costumes to start the festive day. During Fallas, pyrotechnic displays of fireworks are constant, but there is one that is the most typical Valencian: the Mascletà. The Mascletà is a essentially a daytime pyrotechnic spectacle, essentially auditory, reaching over 120 decibels. It features the «masclet» or fuse thunder as an essential element. Aerial effects may also be interspersed. The key is to achieve a rhythm and increasing power, ending in a terrestrial apotheosis followed by another in the air.

The world of Fallas is much broader than what we can tell you today. Each falla commission gathers in social clubs «el casal» throughout the year where, in addition to organizing everything necessary for the proper functioning of the falla, they use it as a neighborhood headquarters for fun, weekly dinners, card games, parties, and assemblies. Visits are made to the fallero artist’s workshop to see how the falla is being made, they participate in religious and spiritual events, organize parties where music and gunpowder reign supreme, and all of this culminates in Fallas week, a frenetic week full of passion and feeling that ends with the burning of the falla.

The final step, and the true purpose and culmination of the falla, is its burning. The falla must burn on the night of March 19th. Holes are drilled in various points to act as chimneys, rags soaked in gasoline are inserted, and they are set on fire. The rest is up to the flames. The burning marks the turning point between creation and destruction. Many think that Valencians are crazy because we are able to burn thousands of works of art every year that also cost a lot of money, but for Valencians, burning the fallas symbolizes putting an end to everything from the past year and welcoming Spring with the changes that it brings for the rest of the year. It is a ritual deeply rooted in Valencian tradition.

We sincerely hope that you have enjoyed our falla monuments and that in some way we have been able to show you a bit of the essence that surrounds this great festival. Never stop visiting us, because fallas are ephemeral, and every year we surprise a little more.