CULTURE

Catalonia denies it has claimed Valencia’s Fallas festival as its own

Thousands sign petition calling on region to remove reference to fiesta from website

This year’s ‘falla’ on Cuba Street in Valencia.
This year’s ‘falla’ on Cuba Street in Valencia.jose jordan

Social media were on Tuesday awash with reactions to the news that a Catalan government website had included the Valencia-based Fallas festival in its own list of typically Catalan cultural events.

A petition has been started on Change.org asking the Catalan government to stop classifying the Fallas as part of Catalonia’s cultural heritage. The initiative has attracted 23,300 signatures to date.

The Fallas, which are currently underway in the regional capital, are a point of pride for Valencians, who share historical and linguistic ties with the Catalans, but also fiercely defend their own heritage.

If anyone is tempted to sow confusion, we’ll have to give them a map

Fallas president Pere Fuset

Featuring enormous effigies that are paraded on the streets before being burnt down in a symbolic cleansing rite, the Fallas de Valencia have been designated an event of international tourism interest by the Spanish government.

Valencian authorities are now trying to get the Fallas included on Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

The Popular Party in Valencia had warned a few days ago that the nationalist government of Carles Puigdemont had the Fallas down as a manifestation “of Catalan culture, like the Winter Bonfires.”

The website, run by the Catalan culture department, included the reference in a compendium of “everything one needs to know about Catalan culture in the realms of language and literature, the arts, gastronomy, history, popular culture, science, film, thought and music.”

Valencian political parties have rushed to counter the claims.

“It is a cultural aberration,” said a spokesperson for the regional conservatives.

The Pyrenees fallas festivities have been practiced for centuries in many villages of Catalonia, Andorra, Aragon and France” Catalan culture official Lluís Puig

Fernando Giner, the Ciudadanos spokesman in Valencia City Hall, asked Mayor Joan Ribó to take good care of the Fallas because “they are part of our cultural singularity, and to try to change that is to violate the respect that the various regions owe to one another.”

Meanwhile, the president of the Fallas organizing committee, Pere Fuset, said the Fallas were a Valencian fiesta and “if anyone is tempted to sow confusion, we’ll have to give them a map.”

So far, the Valencian government has refused to join the fray, and is focusing instead on the Unesco nomination.

But some Catalan officials have been irritated by all the reaction.

“The Pyrenees fallas festivities have been practiced for centuries in many villages of Catalonia, Andorra, Aragon and France, and those are the only classified ones,” said Lluís Puig, the Catalan government’s chief of popular culture, associations and cultural action affairs.

“What’s going on here is that the most reactionary, orthodox and Taliban-like sectors want somebody to blame in case the December meeting of Unesco in Ethiopia decides not to recognize the Valencian Fallas as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,” he added. “The Unesco doesn’t want trouble. If one region is in confrontation with another, they won’t want anything to do with it.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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