Saint Joseph’s Day, also known as Fallas de San José, honors St Joseph, the Virgin Mary’s spouse. It is held annually on March 19. This date is also known as Father’s Day (Día del Padre) in many areas in Spain and is a Bank Holiday. Some people attend special church services to honour the life of St Joseph.On this special day, Fallas are constructed, displayed and ceremonially burnt in many towns and villages in the autonomous community of Valencia, including the city of Valencia. Fallas are elaborate scenes made of papier-mâché, cardboard or even wood and take up to 1 year to construct. One is chosen by popular vote each year to be preserved in the regional museum. The winning Falla also receives a substantial amount of prize money. The rest are burnt during fireworks displays in the evening of March 19. This forms some resemblance to the British Guy Fawkes night held on November 5th. The theme of a Falla may be political, or be synonymous with controversial or taboo issues in Spanish society. This year I am sure that many will feature Barcenas with his “sobres de metallico negro” or what we would call “brown envelopes”.
The tradition of constructing and burning Fallas arose at some stage in the Middle Ages. Carpenters burnt broken pieces of work and remnants of wood collected during the winter to celebrate the spring equinox. At some point, the fires were moved to St Joseph’s Day as he is the patron saint of carpenters.
According to the bible, St Joseph was the Virgin Mary’s spouse and played an important role in Jesus’ upbringing. St Joseph is often portrayed with a carpenter’s square or other wood working tools, the infant Jesus and a staff with lily blossoms.
This festival really is most interesting and if you get the chance to go to Valencia during this period then you need to get a street map from the tourist office which will give you the exact locations as to where the Fallas are displayed prior to the 19 March.
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