Sunday, January 29, 2012

Before the Fallas.

Falleras pose at the City of Arts and Sciences (La Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias), Valencia.

 Most people know about the Fallas. The pyrotechnic madness that engulfs the city of Valencia between the 15th and 19th of March every year, with the giant 'Fallas' statues burning at midnight on the 19th, the feast of San José.
But did you know that there's a lot more to Fallas than that? In November, the new Falleras start their processions (desfiles) for the first (but by no means the last) time. Falleras are the respresentatives of each Falla (club), and wear traditional Valencian costume. Most Falleras are female although there are always a number of boys/men as well. Speaking to a number of parents of Falleras in our school, we've learned that an 'average' Fallera dress costs 3 or 4 thousand euros, but that you can pay a lot more than that for the finest silk.
Avoid the crowds. Local residents enjoy the parade of Falleras infantiles in Burriana.
We stumbled upon this procession of Falleras infantiles in Burriana, out for the first time in their finery. If you're travelling in the Valencian community any time between November and March, it's worth enquiring at the local oficina de turismo to see if there is a parade in the offing. 
It can take many hours to prepare for the big moment.
Remember, Valencia isn't the only town/city to do Fallas. Many of the other towns in the Comunidad Valenciana are also involved. The crowds are much smaller and the atmosphere more 'Spanish' without the hordes of tourists. Check out towns such as Gandia, Oliva, Dénia, Benidorm, Burriana, Vall d'Uixó, Benicarló and others, to escape the masses of tourists and experience a smaller, but more authentic Fallas.
It might only be November, but it's still a big day for these young Falleras.

A note on pronunciation: Spanish has some very simple, but elegant rules on pronunciation. One of the easiest mistakes to make is to pronounce 'll' as we would in English. In Spanish, 'll' makes a sound like an English 'y'. Try saying 'Fly-ass' with the stress on the 'fly' but don't make the 'l' sound. Now you can say Fallas perfectly.
As for Falleras, try saying 'Fly-air-ass', again without the sound of the 'l', but this time stress the 'air' syllable. Beautiful! 
(The Falleras, that is, not my Spanish accent!) 

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