Fireworks at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento for las Fallas festival in Valencia, Spain
© Helena G.H/Shutterstoc
Valencia celebrates spring. The smoke before the bonfire
Today marks the fifth, final, fantastic day of this noisy, fire-and-smoke-filled holiday in Valencia, Spain. While the origins aren’t entirely clear, the current customs practiced in Las Fallas (‘torches’ in colloquial translation) borrow elements of pre-Christian spring festivals, Carnival, and the feast of Saint Joseph—which is Father’s Day in this region. Each day of the festival follows a schedule of marching bands in the mornings and fireworks in the afternoon, which is what’s happening in our photo. There are dancers in traditional costumes as well, but the real spectacle comes tonight, as the parade of large, often bawdy wood and paper figures called ninots are marched through the streets and then added to a huge bonfire to welcome spring.