St. Joseph is famous both as a father and as a carpenter.  Craftsman and woodworkers in Valencia long had a tradition of a sort of spring cleaning, gathering up all the scraps in their shops to burn in a bonfire on this day.  Over time, the scraps were dressed up like humorous scarecrows, and eventually these became political and satirical, often reflecting anti-clerical sentiments.  These are the origins of the festival of Fallas.

So, we set out on a peaceful (more or less) Sunday evening.

So, how do you go about burning a falla?  First make sure you have plenty of firemen handy.  Move the crowd back to a sane distance.  Remove all extraneous flamable stuff, like posters, chairs, kids, etc.  Next, wrap strings of mascletas round and round the falla, and douse it with kerosene.  Now we can get down to business.  Begin with a fireworks show, of course.

Then, touch off the mascletas wrapped around the falla, which will then ignite the kerosene so the entire falla goes up like a huge torch.

BTW, the etymology of the word fallas according to wikipedia:

The name of the festival is the plural of the Valencian word falla. The word’s derivation is as follows:
Latin fax “torch” → Latin facvla (diminutive) → Vulgar Latin *facla → Valencian falla.

And what great torches they are!  These things burn hot and fast.  The crowd you can see above began moving back quite soon after the falla was ignited.

Here’s another one going up.  This one was right in front of the neighborhood bar near where my brother stayed.  We had great tapas there.

Anyway, first the fireworks.

Then the crema, or burning.

This was happening all over the city.  It’s not even possible to visit all the fallas in Valencia, but all of them got burnt that night, even the huge ones.

I was pretty curious about how the city would look the next day.  Neighborhoods in ashes?