It all began with a portly butcher and an early Spring day.
It was the Middle Ages and the time of year when Winter finally begins to falter, losing its grip to glorious Spring. To celebrate, the carpenters of Valencia would drag the rot and mildew-wood out of their shops and into the streets to be burned. This went on for years and somewhere between those days and these, it was remarked that one of the crude sculptures bore a striking resemblance to the rotund butcher who lived one street over. Well as things will go, after a bit of youthful pilfering, namely an apron and a butchers cap, the resemblance became uncanny. (Keep in mind this particular butcher did have a rather blockish figure). With the addition of a painted "bigote" or mustache, all the town began to linger and laugh at the work, especially when the corpulent butcher would stop by, making a humph about how inaccurate the work was while really resembling it very nicely. (You must remember that this particular butcher did look rather like a walrus, especially when he was upset).
That week, the nearly derelict cafe on the corner did more business that it had in a decade, and upon the day set to burn of the figure the whole neighborhood turned out to see how long his mustache would escape the flames. The butcher himself, now quite flattered at the attention he was receiving, even offered to light it, toasting to the Spring and to the bonfire being a bit slimmer in the coming year.
And thus, Fallas was born*
Today nearly 200 fallas, some 60 ft tall, stand in major intersections across Valencia. Neighborhood groups called "casal fallers" spend all year planning, sculpting, and painting their own fallas to satirically depict historical scenes, Spanish political scandals, Donald Duck or even Donald Trump. The kids are let out of school. Barrages of fireworks are fired without reprieve. And the smells of the street waft between freshly-dipped chocolate churros and the acrid sulfur of pyrotechnics. Then on March 19th, every falla throughout the city is set ablaze at midnight in an event called La Cremá, to the cheering of the crowds. And thus begins Spring in Valencia.
*i made the whole story up