Burning on el día de San José

Alameda Raku

Burning up the old, the not-necessary, the broken, the excess.

My grandma did it! (to the big Jemez basket her cat Mike had peed in …)

My niece tells me my sis does it.

I need to do it – I hang on to too much.

On the 19th of March, Día de San José, 34 years ago, living in Valencia, Espana, I experienced the last night of  “Las Fallas.” So many people packed into the streets, the crowd buoyed you – it was solid people between the buildings, from plaza to plaza, the dark night sky above the roaring fires of the 2-story tall sculptures we’d seen bright with paint in the daylight.

Valencia’s idea of making a sculpture out of discarded stuff to give voice to the politics you hate – then to burn! -Las Fallas – would be a great way to go these days.

from http://www.valenciavalencia.com/culture-guide/fallas/about-fallas.htm

...Lastly, the Fallas Festival is a festivity that takes place 15th-19th of March every year to celebrate the spirit and tradition of the Fallas-Communities.

Originally, the Fallas Festival was the celebration of spring. The early Fallas-Sculptures were nothing more than a pile of old winter junk that got burned to clear space in the houses. In a way, it signified getting rid of the old for a new beginning.

The Fallas are incredible in how many dimensions they have. They are an artistic pursuit: the Fallas-Sculptures are a unique Valencian form of art (and can be very impressive). They are an intellectual rhetoric: every Falla-Sculpture is deeply thought through and sharp in its satire. They are an opportunity for strengthening social bonds in the neighbourhood. Las Fallas are a hedonistic excuse for a week-long party. And yes, you could easily find a philosophical streak there too: the ease with which millions of euros burn on the streets of Valencia never stops to impress foreigners.

I would like to clear space in my house AND make a sharp satirical statement, too. But these days can’t make the space in my very busy days to do it.

On the 23rd of March  7 years ago, our family walked to the streetside gathering at 4th and Osuna with other families holding candles to protest the US bombing of Baghdad. It started raining while we stood in a group of 40, our candles still burning under umbrellas, some passersby smiling with thumbs up from car windows, others so mad at us they slammed on their horns frowning. It has been a long war. (Remember when Bush didn’t call it a war for a while?)


1 Response to “Burning on el día de San José”

  1. March 27, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Great, deep and significant event. I really learned a lot in reading this post. I know the time is passed for Fallas, but Brenda and I might just have one anyway. I agree with burning the basket. I have some things in the barn that need to go because of the kitty-cats. I like the various dimensions of Fallas. I’ll not forget, C.C., candles under the umbrella. Your politics and mine intersect at many places. Thanks again for the compadre comment. His funeral was this afternoon. –Jack.

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