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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 04/10/15

Friday, April 10, 2015

LAS FALLAS FROM VALENCIA!!!




Image result for las fallas 2015




    In the middle of the Mediterranean coast, Valencia city, celebrates each year the final days of the winter and the arrival of spring with spectacular fires of pyrotechnics. From March 15th to the 19th (the feast of Saint Joseph, day of the father in the whole country), Valencia is given over to a carnival of bonfires, fiesta, fireworks and a healthy dose of satire known as Las Fallas"the fires".












    Displayed on every corner all over the city are colorful ninots, giant paper-mache' figures often 20 feet tall or even more that have been paraded through the streets and then place in fantasy groups to tower over excited spectators. Each one in some way satires a political figure, or a soap star, or more exotic creatures from the movies, TV, sports idols, or simply imagination. Some of them are grotesque...others playful and charming...all are larger than life and up for public scrutiny.













    Every day at 2 p.m., firecrackers rip through the Plaza del Ayuntamiento in a noisy event called La Mascleta'. This concert of gunpowder is very popular and involves different neighborhood groups competing for the most impressive volley, ending with the terremoto, (literally means "earthquake") as hundreds of masclets explode simultaneously. While this may not be for the frail or faint hearted, you will understand how the Valencians got their valiant name.












    Another important event is the Ofrenda de Flores a la Virgen de los Desamparados, a beautiful ceremony every March 17th and 18th, that honors Valencia's patron Virgin. Thousands of Falleras and Falleros arrive to the city from every corner of the Comunitat (Valencia State) and take the streets wearing traditional costumes and dancing to their neighborhood or village bands as they wind their way to the Plaza de la Virgen to offer bouquets to the giant image of the Virgin.











    Historians say that the origins of the festival go back to the time when carpenters cleared out their workshops and talleres at the end of winter, throwing out odds and ends of wood and old candles and lighting them on the street the day of Saint Joseph.













    Nowadays, celebrations draw to an end with a fabulous firework displays in the Paseo de la Alameda, called the Nit del Foc (literally "The Night of Fire"), on March 18th. All Fallas burn all over the city the following night (including the winner of the competition) in a tremendous spectacle of fire and joy. Valencia is at that moment like Nero's Rome, a city in flames. That's why Valencians call this the best firework fiesta in the world!












Fireworks in las Fallas

    Keep the fireworks in mind even if your are not a fan. Here they are not just fireworks. Over th centuries the Valencians developed them into a form of art. Valencia is the unrivalled Mozart of fireworks. Valencian pyrotechnic crews get regularly contracted for blowing up big world events, such as Olympics and New Years. The fireworks of the Fallas must not be missed.
   There are two types of fireworks during the Fallas Festival.
The Mascleta
    The firecrackers. The mascleta is not visual, it is just the explosions. But remember: in Valencia it is not just noise. It is an orchestra, there are all those various types of explosions and the Valencians attempt to create some kind of symphony out of them, much like playing a piano. There are various professional pyrotechnic bands who compete to create the best "melody".
    The best mascleta is meant to be on the last day of the Fallas Festival, the 19th of March. But get there early...most people will want to see it.










The Castillo
    The castillo is the visual fireworks, performed at night. Even someone who is not a fan and always finds the fireworks boring must see what the Valencians can do. It's not just a few green balls, few red balls and a bunch of white rays. It will leave you in awe with an open mouth, the shear complexity, aesthetics and artistic harmony is incredible. Words can't describe it. You have never seen anything like it.

Nic De Foc
    "Night of Fire". Usually the castillo lasts for 10-15 minutes. The Nic de Foc is the highlight of the Fallas fireworks...it is extra special, extra visual, extra inventive and extra amazing. It goes on for 25-30 minutes. Don't miss it and do pick a good spot early...once it starts the whole city will move towards a good spot and huge avenues will become totally impassable.













Street Petards
    This is one of the more unfortunate side of the Fallas Festival. Witch such Valencian devotion to explosions, the mascleta and castillo are simply not enough. On March 1st, the first petard is thrown on the streets. Over the next two weeks it gets progressively more until, finally, on the 15th, the city is entirely in a war zone. For the next four days, you simply won't walk 3 seconds without hearing an explosion to the left and to the right.
    It is fun to walk in such mayhem and it adds to the festivals atmosphere.     Unfortunately, its goes way beyond fun. Many of the petard throwers are benign family people entertaining their kids, or the kids themselves are doing the entertaining. This is hard enough in itself...it's not that much fun to jump of fright every ten minutes. But there is also that very malicious breed of adolescent youth who will try to catch you off guard and throw it under your feet when you are not watching. Those petards can be very strong.
    You will also come across something called borrachos. These are tubes which, once ignited, move around in frantic thrusts, with a long tail of sparks coming out of them. They can look very scary, thrown into the middle of the crowd (and this does happen often...otherwise it wouldn't be funny for those who throw them) but they don't appear to be very harmful in reality.







TOP 10 BIZARRE FOOD FESTIVALS!!




    Food,  food,  food!   We love it so much it features regularly on the List Universe. And the one thing we love more than food? Bizarre lists. Fortunately this one combines both passions. So sit back and enjoy a fun filled list. Of course, if you can think of other exciting bizarre food festivals, be sure to let me know in the comments.






10. Noche de Rábanos (Night of the Radishes)

Where: Oaxaca, Mexico
When: December 23-24 annually

    This is a food festival where eating is discouraged! This festival originated in the 16th century when Spanish monks brought this edible root to the new colonies. To gain attention in the food markets, sellers would carve some radishes into eye-catching sculptures. This tradition continued throughout the centuries and became an official festival in 1987. Radishes as big as two feet long and weighing upwards of ten pounds are carved into intricate religious or cultural scenes. The artisans can compete in three different categories for cash prizes






9. Annual Testicle Festival

Where: Clinton, Montana, USA
When: July 29-August 2nd


    There are several imitators but this is the original ballfest. Usually known by its classier name, the Rocky Mountain Oyster Festival, this whole event is dedicated to serving deep-fried bull testicles. You can have your choice plain deep-fried, beer battered, marinated, as well as some newly concocted delectables. For the indecisive, $5 can provide a sampler plate of testicles. Those on a low-testicle diet can have fun as well! One of the highlights of the festival is Bullshit Bingo, with a grand prize of $100 for the lucky person who can correctly predict where a cow will do its doodie. The motto of this dignified event? “I had a ball at the Testicle Festival.”



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8. World Pea shooting Championship


Where: Witcham, Cambridgeshire, UK
When: July 11th

    This is loosely termed a festival since the food isn’t celebrated; rather, it’s like a block party that grew out of a simple target competition. In 1971, local headmaster Mr. Tyson held the first pea shooting competition as a way to fundraise for the upkeep of the village hall. The entrance fee is only £1.00 for adults and £0.50 for children, but be warned! The competitors take this extreme sport seriously and you’ll need hi-tech gear (like the laser-guided pea shooter) to stand a chance on the field with these seasoned pea shooting veterans





7. Roadkill Cook-off of the Autumn Harvest Festival


Where: Marlington, West Virginia, USA
When: September 26th

    Nobody panic! None of the entries in this harvest festival competition have any tire marks as they aren’t actually unfortunate outcomes of “Why did the chicken cross the road?” jokes. This competition utilizes wild game such as raccoon, possum, deer…basically any of Bambi’s friends that could be potential roadkill. Does that make it better? No? oh well… notables among the past wild game entries are “Spicy Venison, Buffalo & Sausage Stew”, “Pulled Bambi”, and Biscuits & Squirrel Gravy.






6. Gilroy Garlic Festival

Where: Gilroy, California, USA
When: July 24-26th

    Gilroy is the unofficial Garlic Capital of the World and proudly shows off in this festival that attracts over 100,000 visitors annually that as a whole consume an estimated two and a half tons of garlic at the event. The official Gilroy Garlic Festival website claims to have used 72 tons of garlic in the twenty-nine years this festival has existed. Cooking demonstrations and lectures discuss traditional uses and health benefits but the innovative can always express their love for this pungent food in the Great Garlic Cook-off, which has had entries like garlic ice cream, garlic soft drinks and last year’s winner “Walnut-Garlic Tart with Garlic-Infused Cream and Chili Syrup”. Anyone need a Tic Tac?








5. Waikiki Spam Jam

Where: Waikiki, Hawaii, USA
When: April 25th

    As an area with a scarce meat supply during WWII, this archipelago embraced the blue-canned pink meat and has now become Spam’s most loyal market. During this street festival, hula dancers perform while judges crown a Mr. and Miss Spam and Hawaii’s top chefs create new recipes celebrating the gelatinous meat product. Pedestrians get to sample everything from Spam Burgers to Spam Musubi (kind of like sushi but with spam instead of fish). This festival also serves a philanthropic purpose that benefits the Hawaii Food Bank, the largest non-profit in Hawaii that feeds the needy.






4. Ivrea Orange Festival

Where: Ivrea, Italy
When: Last date: February 25-28th

    La Tomantina has already been mentioned in a previous lists, but by no means is that the only fruit-throwing festival! The Ivrea Orange Festival originated from the 12th century when during parades and city celebrations, girls would throw oranges from their balconies to gain the attention of the boy they fancied. The boys began to reciprocate (no mention if the secret admiration was reciprocated but the oranges certainly were!) and this evolved into a messy rivalry between the balcony girls and the street boys. It wasn’t until WWII when the intricate citrus battle rules were finally laid out. It is free for anyone to participate by joining one of the nine teams on foot or become a member of the carriage crew.







3. Carnival at Vilanova i La Geltrú (Candy Throwing Fight)



Where: Vilanova i La Geltrú, Spain
When: Fat Tuesday

    Originally a protest of the Franco regime’s Carnivale prohibition, this annual festival is by far the sweetest food fight in the world! Celebrations begin on Fat Tuesday with the Meringue Wars, where bakeries open their stores and pass out free pie ammunition to children. The adults dress in the colors of their respective Carnival Society and attend parties and masquerades before joining the children in the streets in what becomes a sweet tooth free-for-all! Over 200,000 lbs of food has been donated to the food fight, ranging from pies to candy to cereal… It’s a dentist’s nightmare! The festival officially ends with the ceremonial burial of a sardine to mark the beginning of Lent and fasting.







2. Olney Pancake Race

Where: Olney, England, UK
When: Pancake Day or Fat Tuesday

    At 11:55 am on Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Day, aka Fat Tuesday), the local ladies assemble dressed in traditional housewife attire (including skirt, apron and scarf) and run 415 yards through the streets of Olney carrying a frying pan. The pancakes are tossed at the start of the race and the winner is must toss her pancake again at the finish. The race has been an Olney tradition since 1445 and in 1950, the competition expanded to include a friendly flapjack rivalry with the housewives and young women of Liberal, Kansas in the US. The ladies of Liberal won this past year’s race with a new record of 57.5 seconds









1. Annual Yuma Lettuce Days

Where: Yuma, Arizona, USA
When: Last date: January 23-25th

    Yuma is known as ‘The Winter Lettuce Capital of the World". Sounds silly, yes, but considering Yuma produces $1.5 billion of Arizona’s agriculture revenue and provides 90% of North America’s winter vegetables, it’s appropriate to respect the lettuce. Among the highlights of this Veggie Fair are the Lettuce sculptures, Cabbage Bowling, Homegrown Cooking Contest and the "World’s Largest Salad".