The Thrill of Las Fallas!





English Article


The Thrill of Las Fallas

Valencia was my first port of call as a young Navy chaplain (and newlywed). Every chance I got I would leave the ship and stroll the cobble-stoned streets of the Gothic Quarter. I liked catching glimpses of what life in the historic port of Valencia has been for centuries. Our young sailors, members of the crews of my destroyer squadron, explored the waterfront -- as mariners have for as long as there have been seaports.  However, this was not an ordinary port visit. We had tied up to the pier in time for the week of the fiesta of Las Fallas, and the people of Valencia were eager for all of us to become part of this fabulous event. 

The Las Fallas fiesta of Valencia is an astonishing farewell to winter. Only those who have actually seen it can believe it. Some 700 fallas, large papier mache monuments mounted over wooden frames, are burnt to cinders on the 19th of March – the festival of San José , the patron saint of carpenters.  In the Middle Ages, as the days became shorter, artisans and carpenters of Valencia had to spend the last few hours of their workday laboring by the light of oil lamps hanging from crafted wooden stands called parots. When spring arrived and the days became longer, the lamps and wooden stands were no longer necessary. As part of spring-cleaning, the carpenters would routinely burn the parots, standing them up in the midst of wooden shavings and scraps of lumber. See full english article...

Spanish Article


The Thrill of Las Fallas

Queridos amigos de La Tienda,

En el primer puerto donde fondeé siendo un joven capellán de la Armada americana recién casado fue Valencia. Allí aproveché todas las oportunidades para salir del barco y pasear por las calles empedradas del Barrio Gótico. Disfruté echando un fugaz vistazo a lo que desde hace siglos ha sido la vida en el histórico puerto de Valencia. Nuestros jóvenes marineros, tripulación del destructor, exploraron los muelles, como lo hicieran anteriormente y desde que existen puertos marítimos otros tantos marineros. Sin embargo, ésta no fue una escala ordinaria. Habíamos arribado a puerto justo a tiempo para la fiesta de Las Fallas, y los valencianos estaban deseosos de incluirnos a todos como parte de esta fabulosa celebración. See full spanish article...

Discussion Questions


  1. Locate Valencia on a map. Why is Las Fallas of Valencia celebrated?
  2. What are fallas?
  3. The ninots are sometimes made in the image of local politicians or clergy or others in authority. Why?
  4. What sorts of investments of time and money go into the fallas. What happens to almost all of the fallas?
  5. Can you think of any celebration in your country that is similar? 

Extension Activity

Let’s have some horchata . Before you take a sip, what do you think it will taste like? Now taste it. Were you surprised? How would you describe horchata to a friend who had never had it before?

Links (will open the LaTienda.com site in a new window)