“For me it is the most exciting moment of the Fallas. I always have something to tell him, and this year I have been asking him for a long time, ”explains Sandra, glassy-eyed. She has been failing for 40 years, the Fallas flood her life. She works in one of the most recognized regional clothing stores in the city and today she has free Saturday, since she parades in the Offering first thing in the morning with the Pla del Reial-Benimaclet sector. “My sister-in-law, who is a hairdresser, does my hair on Friday night. If not, I don't arrive. In my house we are seven people to dress ”, she says excitedly.
The Offering is not just any parade for the Fallas festival, it is the most massive, and this year, between visitors and the more than 100,000 Falleros and Falleras that make up the census, it seems like a record-breaking event. Even more so, being held on Friday and Saturday, which already brings together hundreds of people in the city center which, remember, traffic is completely cut off from Thursday until next Monday.
Sandra explains how at home they first dress the little ones in regional costumes, “and we send them out into the street”. Then they help the men and, in a kind of ritual that is repeated in each Fallas house, “the last ones are us”. Going out smoothing her mantilla and running to the assembly point with the rest of the Fallas commission explains that it is "almost a tradition" for her.
The gesture that falleras and falleros repeat year after year has its origin in the 40s, when Paquita Pérez, senior fallera of the commission then called San Vicente-Falangista Esteve, decided to carry the image of the Virgin, which was not out of the homonymous square but inside the Cathedral, one of the many bouquets that they had given him. In that little walk, short because the falla is one of the most central, she was accompanied by the music band of Massarrojos.
Thus, to the beat of popular music, he undertook a gesture that has evolved and to which almost all falleros profess devotion today, whether or not they are devotees of the Virgen de los Desamparados, patron saint of the city.
It is a unique opportunity to parade with the family, as a couple or with friends through the streets of Valencia, which also includes local politicians. Among the women, whose costumes are especially showy, the streets of Valencia see Mónica Oltra, Sandra Gómez or María José Català parading, in a clear demonstration that the Fallas do not understand political colors, despite the traditionally widespread belief.
This year, in addition, there will be good weather and a renewed promenade, because after the pedestrianization of the Plaza de la Reina it returns to return a certain lost majesty. On Calle de la Paz, Ana Belén, fallera and Sandra's co-worker, entered yesterday afternoon.
This year's is also a special Offering for her, also twice. She paraded yesterday with the falla Rubén Vela-Dr. Waksman of which she is Fallera Mayor; and this afternoon she will repeat with the falleros by Maestro Bellver-Mariano Ribera, since it was her commission for years and in this exercise she commemorates the 50th anniversary.
"I don't know how it will be, but I always get emotional, so I imagine that this year it will be worse... when I hear my name in the square it will be exciting," he predicted these previous days. She went to the hairdresser's on Thursday at six in the morning and since then she has kept her hair combed so as not to miss any act of failure. "Now I come from the mascletà in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento and I have experienced it as the most special act", she explains with enthusiasm.
However, when we spoke, the Offering had not yet arrived. The young woman confesses that she is not particularly religious, but "with the Offering it is something very special", explains her, who dreams of tattooing the skyline of Valencia because she says she feels "something very special with my city, I cannot help it".
Due to work and devotion, Ana Belén spends many hours a day linked to the Josefina party, from which she never leaves because "I wake up and I already think of Fallas, Fallas, Fallas... It's my day to day". Next to her, her co-worker Sandra nods while she smiles and touches up her scarf, her blouse…. Perks of the trade of fallera.