Permaworking time on almost empty beach showed me a relaxing-siesta face of Spain – wide and blue – that one I felt in love with. How about fire? Fallas! – You have to see that! To understand that rising sun is celebrated by both – those who enjoy slow life and go for a morning walk and those who slowly end last night fiesta – all year long. For them siesta has different taste… Perhaps.
YOU HAVE TO SEE FALLAS!
I have to survive… – that’s more, what I felt. An anthropologist inside me was whispering: take it easy and with curiosity – it’s a culture, it has its reasons and beauty…
I understand. I saw a bit and still – it took time to join – because what my mind knew, my body rejected and met with stress. It’s a temperament and sensitivity case. And a learning point.
WHAT IS FALLAS?
I wouldn’t be true if I would pretend I know. But 100% true is I HEARD what it is – and it made my decision of keeping safe distance together with doubt: what it’s all about?
Fallas is a La Safor tradition of creating big and many time beautiful sculptures of papier-mâché – by people who gather in a local communities (that sounds like a great idea and looks like that! – seeing this people working together was my pleasure) to create and compete for the best one and partying around within a few days of celebration – to burn them at the end. Why?
Because these sculptures represent some aspects of passing year – a politics and social issues. It can be seen as a social critical art – what again sounds great! Yes – as well as exploding… That’s why I can truly say: I heard about Fallas – staying in a flat and wondering: if I really cannot missed that…?
I made a few steps to see it closer. I enjoyed a morning parades of costumes and haircuts accompanied by brass bands and the engagement of Gandia people, who were recreating their tradition. I also made few steps back – seeing streets full of kids with firecrackers, sometimes with parents and many time without, throwing fire sometimes carefully and many time wherever.
For kids it can be freedom – a space of exploration and expression – for sure. They are also socialized on that way… Maybe. For some it works. And not for all – kids and adults. Meeting a grown-up local girl who hates those days helped me to stay with question:
WHAT IS CELEBRATION?
And what to do if we really don’t enjoy as others? Where to hide? One friend from Valencia went to Tenerife – smart one! Other disappear in his home town for a full 4 days. And I – escaping from Polish noisy celebration – met… Fallas.
They remain me about Polish Easter and morning of Resurrection – full of firecrackers, hated by some people and all dogs. Loved by teens who without a “sin” can finally do their exploding best… And then Dyngus – all night long drinking party under an umbrella of celebrating Risen Christ – nothing but vodka describable joy… What our culture did to us before that for every act of joy we need an alcohol?
And then – a lot of water – all Monday long. Sometimes whole buckets – poured on the heads of passers-by… And a tradition standing behind… Or just action?
BETTER NOW THAN… ALWAYS
It works since thousands of years – safety valves in the form of explosive holidays, purifying the atmosphere with fire or water and (lately!) drinks. I see a clue and I long a “yesterday” – cultures who celebrate power of elements – staying sober and bounding in community. Can it be “tomorrow”?
It can be an alternative because a need of unity, even if tired with it shape, is alive. When I heard about Fallas first, I hoped it can be as a Burning Man – but it is not. Or I didn’t get close enough.
In a last day of Fallas I went to see a final fire and it was beautiful. Sculptures burned out with fireworks. Human crowd wandering from one to the other – a bit tired, ready to rest. And with it –promise of next day silence – fulfilled.