michael hughes’s blog

The Making of… Our Lady of the Foresaken » Our Lady of the Foresaken, Valencia

The Ofrenda; Our Lady of the Forsaken at the Falles Festival in Valencia, Spain


Valencia March 2009 L’Ofrenda floral. This is what is known as the “Ofrenda de Flores a la Virgen de los Desamparados”, a floral offering to the Kingdom of Valencia’s patron saint, Our Lady of the Forsaken. All the Fallas Committees take part in this event, decked out in their finest, to present their bouquets of flowers to the enormous image of the Virgin which stands in the centre of the plaza named after her, overlooked by her Basilica.
This occurs all day on their days of March 17th and March 18th. The virgin’s body is then constructed with these flowers. The Falles (in Valencian) are a Valencian traditional celebration in praise of Saint Joseph in Valencia, Spain. The term Falles refers to both the celebration and the monuments created during the celebration.
Each neighbourhood of the city has an organized group of people, the Casal faller, that works all year long holding fundraising parties and dinners, usually featuring the famous speciality paella. Each casal faller produces a construction known as a falla which is eventually burnt. A casal faller is also known as a comissió fallera.
The name of the festival is thus the plural of falla. The word’s derivation is as follows:
falla ← Vulgar Latin *facla ← Latin facula (diminutive) ← Latin fax, “torch”. There are a few different theories regarding the origin of the Falles festival. One theory suggests that the Falles started in the Middle Ages, when artisans put out their broken artifacts and pieces of wood that they sorted during the winter then burnt them to celebrate the spring equinox. Valencian carpenters used planks of wood to hang their candles on. These planks were known as parots. During the winter, these were needed to provide light for the carpenters to work by. With the coming of the Spring, they were no longer necessary, so they were burned. With time, and the intervention of the Church, the date of the burning of these parots was made to coincide with the celebration of the festival of Sai

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