Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fallas in Elda

Spanish websites have improved no end in the time that we have been here. Nowadays it's nearly as easy to find something in Spanish as it is in English.

There are dishonourable exceptions of course. RENFE the state rail provider has a useless website. It may be possible to book a ticket and it may not but trying to find what trains go from where to where is impossible, so far as I can tell.

This being the case I had no worries about trying to find some information about the Fallas taking place in Elda this weekend. Google gave me the website and there was a skeletal but serviceable calendar. There wasn't much in the way of background information so if you didn't know what Fallas are then you would be a bit stymied but I did visit last year so I had a vague idea of how it all worked.

The basic idea is that a number of groups, comisiones, based on neighbourhoods build a falla. A falla is a sort of flammable tableau made of individual figures (which I think are called ninots) set against a built background. Usually the tableau represent a contemporary theme - maybe something political or sociological. Each Comisión also elects a series of "Carnival Queens" with a court of "ladies in waiting" and sends representatives, the mayordomos, to a central council which co-ordinates the whole shebang. There are activities all year round but the whole lot culminates with the tableau being built in the streets for a climactic weekend when there are parades, a mascletá (a sort of sound only firework display) and the burning of the tableau. The religious element, and there is nearly always a religious element in Spain, turns, I think, around San Crispín and San Crispiniano (The Henry V, Agincourt saints) the saintly brothers who are the patron saints of shoemakers. Shoemaking is an activity associated with Elda.

Last year I went looking for the various statues and found about four of the nine. I also followed a couple of the processions from their home base to a church but it was all a bit hit and miss. This year I thought to do it properly. So I tootled around the website and the Facebook page and eventually I found a timetable. Tomorrow, Sunday looked like a good day. I thought I could go to the mascletá at half past one and also wander around some of the fallas statues. I couldn't find the location of the individual fallas though and when I put the location of the mascletá into Google maps it came up with a blank. Another Google search and I found newspaper articles that gave me a clue as to the location but it had taken me a long, and frustrating, time.

Eventually I sent a snotty Facebook message to the Central Council something along the lines of "Do you want any tourists at your fallas? The answer has to be no. That's why there is no map of the location of the fallas and why the address of the mascletá isn't a real address. Ah of course, it's only for the people of Elda. The families with years of pure blood. I should have known". to give them their due they came back to me within a couple of hours with a little map and with a street name for each of the fallas and a comment to thank me for the message because it would help them improve the organisation.

So, if you have nothing much to do on the 18th of September and you are within striking distance of Elda I'll see you at the Fallas de Elda roundabout (Calle Juan Carlos I and Calle Jardines area) at half past one.

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