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A Burning Love - The Fallas Festival

Por: | 06 de mayo de 2014

Falla Colonia web

During, March 2013, I gathered on the streets of Aldaia with the Valencian people to celebrate the fiesta of Las Fallas. The celebration is held in commemoration of Saint Joseph, the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus. The festival culminated in the burning of sizeable, comical and ornate effigies. These effigies symbolise undesirable elements of society, which the community wish to dispense with unconditionally. On the final night of the festival called "La Cremá", I witnessed the effigies being burned in a cleansing ceremony that aimed to purify the community of evil.

The mainstream media often air news from the grand finale of Las Fallas in the autonomous region of Valencia. However, there is a more pertinent question to ask than just reporting on the striking spectacle and end-game of the fiesta:

What is it like to experience the festival as a fully fledged member of a Fallas committee?

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The many Fallas committees in Valencia fund, plan, create and promote the festival throughout the year. A Fallero (Fallas committee member) called Chiki once said, "Las Fallas is not just about seeing the spectacle of ballistic fireworks and the towering inferno of burning effigies, more importantly it's about participation in the festival."

In one act of participation, I watched the Falleros work tirelessly, non-stop, throughout the night to mount and elevate the effigies. The festival work resembled a bizarre barn raising party as they carried and then erected the giant effigy at the festival spot. Of course, the Fallas flipside to a barn, was eventually burned asunder after only nine days standing proud in situ.

At, Las Fallas, I could almost grasp the echo of a lost pagan burning ritual as publicised by Yoko Ono. However, instead of Ms. Ono scribbling her fears on notepaper and burning it to eliminate suffering, the Falleros set alight effigies to free themselves from the bondage of discontent. Ultimately, this freedom allows the community to progress and better itself.

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You might protest, to destroy these effigies is a form of wanton vandalism, which fruitlessly squanders away money. However, they destroy to create at the festival like the perpetual cyclic nature of life, because these effigies have a symbolic life, karma, death and rebirth; when next year's effigy is born. Las Fallas turns destruction into creation over and over again. Year in and year out. As, Pablo Picasso once said, "The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”

By Paul Louis Archer: Paul Louis Archer Photography

The audio slideshow is best viewed in Full Screen Mode:


Hay 3 Comentarios

Hello Falla Colonia Aldaia and EV. Thanks for your feedback. I'm glad you appreciate my work. Saludos cordiales - Paul

Wow, interesting report. J.V. TORDERA superb. definitely a leader.

thank you very much Paul ia @elpaisinenglish by the article, A Burning Love - The Fallas Festival in peoples experiences of failures is more familiar, closer to the visitor and more participatory.
From our failure to thank you once again.

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Authors (Bloggers)

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisjfinnigan

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Fiona Flores Watson is a freelance journalist, guide and translator who has lived in Seville since 2003, and has been a writer and editor for more than 20 years. She writes for the Guardian, Telegraph and Sunday Times Travel Magazine. Originally from Essex, Fiona is also Consulting Editor of and has her own blog, Scribbler in Seville. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @Seville_Writer

Jeff Brodsky is a freelance writer. He arrived in Barcelona in 2013 via an admittedly indirect route, living in Chicago, Arizona, Seville, Amsterdam, North Carolina and Madrid. Despite not having stepped foot in Seville for over five years, he still speaks Spanish with an Andalusian accent. Jeff’s writing has been published in newspapers and magazines in America and Europe.

Koren Helbig is an Australian freelance journalist and blogger enjoying a life of near-eternal sunshine in Alicante. She writes for publications in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom, focusing on stories exploring smart and positive approaches to social issues. She hangs out on Twitter at @KorenHelbig and keeps a selection of her favourite stories at

Julie Pybus lives in a small off-grid house on a hillside in Catalunya. She usually focuses on helping charities and social enterprises with their publications and websites, but has also written for The Guardian, Country Living and The Observer. Julie launched and runs a hyperlocal website which endeavors to increase understanding between the different nationalities in her area @JuliePybus

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved island for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only daily English language paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki.

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne and based in Barcelona, Alx Phillips writes about contemporary art, dance and theatre in a way that human beings can understand. For more previews, reviews, interviews and extras, check:

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