Valencianos are justifiably proud of their cooking traditions, especially paella, but though paella originated here, you can find it in many other places.  One thing that is uniquely Valencian, that happens nowhere else, is Fallas.

I’ve found Fallas signs scattered around town.

And there are memories of Fallas past in the museums.

Right now, Fallas is in the air here.  We see little signs everyday of preparation for the big festival.  There will be a huge influx of people for the event, and some local people are make plans to be out of town.  Some apartments in the plazas overlooking the big crowds are being rented short-term for exorbitant prices.

So what is this crazy Fallas thing?

Well, Fallas is basically a 5-day street party with daily fireworks and elaborate decorations.  The decorations, also called fallas, are paper mache sculptures each containing multiple “ninots,” the Valencian word for puppets or dolls.

Often the fallas are overt political satires.  Here are some of the many Obamas who have appeared.

Here we find Obama and Putin together, though the relationship doesn’t seem to be entirely cordial.

Doesn’t take much imagination to guess who might represent the USA in this year’s Fallas.  I can hardly wait to see!

The grand finale of the celebration is La Cremà, the burning of the fallas (“falles” means torch in Valenciano).  In squares all over town the fallas are set on fire.  The fireworks stuffed inside the fallas ignite first, then the whole thing goes up in flames.  The local fire companies as well as those from surrounding areas are on hand to keep the entire city from burning.

This all takes place from March 15-19, so we’ll be here to see it all.