Andorra's Falles and Fallaires
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Originally, a falla was a long boxwood log to which were attached strips of birch bark, which the young people of each region, the fallaires, lit and waved around the bonfire. They would sometimes also bring them down from the nearby mountains to a bonfire in the middle of the village.
Once lit, the falles are energetically whirled around to create great wheels of fire, whose movement and beauty is almost hypnotic.
Andorra’s falles and fallaires
In 1987, a youth group in Andorra la Vella restored this ancient tradition, that has been lost around the middle of the 19th century. Today, the burning of the falles can be seen on 23 June during St. John’s Night in: Andorra la Vella, Encamp, Sant Julià de Lòria, Escaldes-Engordany, Canillo and la Massana and on Saint Peter’s Night, 28 June, in Ordino.
The celebration of the falles festival ends with the lighting of the traditional St. John’s bonfire, lit using the falles themselves. In Ordino, the burning of the falles ends with the lighting of the Mai de Sant Pere fire.
To initiate children into this tradition, in Andorra la Vella, Sant Julià de Lòria, Escaldes-Engordany and Ordino, falles of light have been created, balls that are also whirled around, allowing kids to participate and enjoy the festival safely.
The associations of the Fallaires of Andorra la Vella, Ordino Popular Culture and the Escaldes-Engordany Pro-tourism Union are responsible for publicising and preserving the falles in their parishes. Since 2017, the fallaires groups in the Principality have coordinated their work in the Taula Nacional de falles de les Valls d’Andorra (National Board of the Falles of the Valleys of Andorra).
The Government of Andorra declared the falles a Festival of Cultural Interest (FIC) and included them in the general inventory of Andorran cultural heritage as an intangible asset, with the name summer solstice festivals.