Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Las Fallas 2014: Mascletà

The first day of March if you find yourself walking around in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento you may wonder why there are so many people milling about. Las Fallas is 15 days away, what’s the big deal?

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This was just day one. Imagine how many people there are on day 19!
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Each color firecracker has a different amount of gunpowder. The designer knows exactly when to light each one.
Well, that would be the Mascleta. Which is one of the most exciting parts of Las Fallas. I mentioned before that this festival is a celebration of noise and fire. There is no better example of that than the Mascleta. Starting on the first of March and going until the 19th (the last day of Fallas) people start trying to get the best spot in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento starting as early as 11:00 am. The whole plaza packed and even back as far as the estacion del norte is wall to wall people.

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The Falleras watch from the Ayuntamiento building
When the clock chimes at 2:00 pm, the Fallera Mayor of Valencia says: “Senyor pirotècnic, pot començar la mascletà!” (Mr. Pyrotechnic, you may commence the Mascleta!) Then…

BOOM!

The loudest firecrackers you have ever heard in your life begin. Unlike Valencia’s midnight Castillo which is a beautiful firework display. The Mascleta is a massive celebration of sound and light. Even at 2pm you can see colorful fireworks, and smoke rising up from the plaza. The last few minutes of the mascleta are known as “The Earthquake” because the ground below you literally is shaking from the noise. The sound reaches up to 120 decibels which is just above the average human pain threshold (source). The noise from the display can be heard all over the city.



Once the show is over people rush to the center of the plaza to congratulate the designer of the show. He is often times carried out on the shoulders of the people. Each day there is a different designer of the Mascleta and whichever display is deemed the best has the honor of designing the final mascleta on the 19th of March.