Wednesday sees the beginning of the most significant fiesta in the Valencian Community – Las Fallas. This culminates on March 19th each year, when the huge effigies that have been constructed in the streets of Valencian towns are burnt in homage to St Joseph – the patron saint of carpenters – and traditionally marks the beginning of the new season and the casting out of things left over from the previous year.
The effigies are constructed during the week leading up to March 19th in the streets and squares of the towns, usually being a collective effort of that particular neighbourhood. The subsequent judging of the statues takes place, and the order in which they are ranked then determines the order in which they are burnt on the night itself, with the winner being left until last.
Each day at 2.00pm from Wednesday onwards, there is a deafening fireworks display (or “mascleta”) that takes place in the large square by the railway station in Gandía, and this is the signal that the day’s festivities can commence. Shops and businesses often close for the rest of the day and the populace takes to the streets to admire the effigies that are taking shape around the town, and to catch sight of the various parades of bands and Fallas Queens that go through the city streets. These culminate in the election of the following year’s Fallas Queen, a position that gives much kudos and social status to the young lady in question, who is then involved in many civic events throughout the coming season.