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April 5th, 2012 – Standard The Mind of da Vinci - Las Falles Valencia, Spain (1280x1024) (340) Wide – The Mind of da Vinci - Las Falles Valencia, Spain (1920x1080) (344)
For the past several hundred years come Spring, Valencianos have been burning things. And of course, keeping the tradition is the tradition here in Spain. Today Las Falles is one of the biggest Spring festivals is Europe and as the entire city of Valencia explodes in a firey paella party! The term Falles refers to both the celebration and the monuments constructed for and burned during the celebration. A number of towns in the Valencian Community have similar celebrations inspired by the original in Valencia. (see the earlier photo essay about the Magdalena Festival)
Supposedly started in the Middle Ages, when carpenters disposed of the broken artifacts and pieces of wood they saved during the winter by burning them to celebrate the spring equinox, the tradition continued to evolve into something much more meaningful. Over time, and with the intervention of the Church (of course), the date of the burning was made to coincide with the celebration of the festival of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. Many times well-known people from the neighborhood and government were often portrayed as well. With time, people of the neighborhoods organized the building of the falles and the typically intricate constructions, including their various figures, were born (and burned). Until the beginning of the twentieth century, the falles were tall boxes with three or four wax dolls dressed in fabric clothing. This changed when the creators began to use cardboard. The fabrication of the falles continues to evolve in modern times, when the largest displays are made of polystyrene and soft cork easily molded with hot saws (but Im sure isn’t very friendly to anyone inhaling it…let alone the environment). These techniques have allowed the creation of falles over 100ft high – now that is how you party! Out of all the Falles I got to see (there are around 600 or something) this one was one of my favorites.
I managed to see it burn from a distance and got off a few shots. As you can see it was incredibly close to the surrounding apartments so instead of spraying down the fire, the fire department sprayed down the buildings. I found a short video about the da Vinci ninot (little brother to the falles) that highlights all the details. I love the notes and tools they put in the back of his head….check it out -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rznADT6QU8