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The word “Las Fallas” literally means “fires,” and this is a week when plenty of “ninots” are first created, and then destroyed. Ninots is a name for big dolls made of cardboard, wood, and paper. Some of them take about a year to be constructed and cost up to $75,000, and some of them are a few floors high, so they require a crane to put them up! These dolls are a satiric way of representing some of the events that marked the previous year with the most popular objects being politicians and showbiz stars.
The ninots remain on display until March 19th, the day known as La Cremá ( or the burning). In the afternoon, men stuff holes in the statues with fireworks. Exactly at midnight the crowds start to cheer, the streetlights go off, and the ninots are set on fire. This is quite a night for local firemen who need to protect the town's buildings from being accidentally burned. Interestingly, each year, one doll is spared from burning by public vote. This doll is called the ninot indultat and is displayed in the Museum of the Ninot for years to come.
There are many activities besides the burning of the ninots during Las Fallas de Valencia. It is marked by parades, bullfights, paella and beauty contests all around the city. Don't forget the daily mascletá at Plaza Ayuntamiento which occurs at 2 pm. It's a pyrotechnic show when the string-lined firecrackers are ignited to the rhythmic sounds that get louder and louder. The ground is literally shaking under your feet as firecrackers fall.