Incase you didn’t know, this Thursday 19th March is a public holiday in Valencia, known as “El Día de San José”.
What’s this day all about?
El Día de San José (or Saint Joseph’s day) is traditionally a day celebrated by the Roman Catholic church dedicated to Saint Joseph. According to the Bible, Joseph was engaged to the Virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus. He married the Virgin, supported her and Jesus, and played a crucial role in Jesus’ upbringing. Therefore, becoming an important father role in Christianity. This is why the day represents fatherhood, and it is known as “El Día del Padre” or Fathers Day! All around Spain people use this day to honor their fathers and spend time with them or give them a gift.
In Valencia, March 19th is probably the most important day of the entire Fallas festivals. It is the final celebration, with plenty of tradition and excitement.
Saint Joseph’s day is the day with the most religious meaning of this Valencian festival. It is the final day where they burn all of the fallas monuments that have been built! Here’s why…
The Fallas tradition originated around the end of XIX century, when carpenters used to burn pieces of broken wood to celebrate the arrival of Spring. Also, people would throw out old household items and burn them, to mark the Winter passing and the Spring arriving!
What started as broken wood being burned, developed into small wooden monuments being contructed. These were the first forms of monuments that would soon receive the name of Ninots or Fallas. Ninots are the figures (individual pieces) that make up the main Falla monument, which is the collection of ninots. These basic fallas would soon adopt an artistic perspective and become one of the biggest symbols of the Fallas festivals.
Carpentry was a very common craft in the city of Valencia at that time, and as San José (Saint Joseph) is the patron saint of carpentry, the event was officially moved to March 19th, St. Joseph’s Day. All the fallas are burnt as the climax of the entire festival at March 19th, the main Falla being burnt at la Plaza de Ayuntamiento whilst the others are all burnt during the night. It follows the traditional meaning, but now you can witness this on a much larger scale!
Unfortunately, this year the celebrations will not go ahead! Due to the virus outbreak and emergency alert in Spain, the Fallas festivals have been cancelled. This is a very sad time for the Valencian community, and especially those people who are part of their fallas groups and have been preparing all year to celebrate this festival and put on a great show.
However, the government have postponed the event, saying that the Fallas festivals are rescheduled for July 15th – 19th. This means that although we are missing the festivals right now, there will be an even bigger celebration when we finally get to celebrate them!
It is with good intentions that the Fallas have been cancelled, so that everyone can stay safe and well, and those affected can recover from this awful situation. We wish everyone good health and hope to see everyone in the postponed Fallas celebrations this summer!
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