Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 11.COM 10.b.30

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Spain has nominated Valencia Fallas festivity (No. 00859) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The main feature of the Fallas Festivity, a tradition of communities in Valencia and its diaspora celebrating the coming of spring, is the giant falla. The falla is a monument made up of ninots (caricature pieces) created by local artists and craftspeople that provides a commentary on current social issues. Erected in the town square, the falla is set alight at the end of the festivity, which runs from 14 to 19 March, to symbolize the coming of spring, purification and a rejuvenation of community social activity. In the meantime, marching bands parade the streets, outdoor meals are held and fireworks staged. Each year, a Fallas Queen is elected to promote the festivity throughout the year encouraging locals and visitors to take part. Know-how associated with the practice is transmitted within families, particularly those involved in the construction of the ninots who belong to different guilds among participating communities. The Fallas festivity provides an opportunity for collective creativity and the safeguarding of traditional arts and crafts. It is also a source of community pride, contributor to cultural identity and enhances social cohesion. In the past, the festivity was also a way of preserving the Valencian language when it was prohibited.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

R.1:   The file adequately describes the element and its constituent parts (dancing, singing, music, sculpture, clothes and jewellery). The cultural meaning of the ‘falla’ monument in terms of renewal, identification and social cohesion is well explained. The communities involved – families, artists, scholars – and transmission mechanisms (within families, between artisans and apprentices and through training workshops) are identified. The element and its enactment are compatible with human rights. Participation and belonging to a Fallas Commission is open to any social group, including men and women of all ages, professions, social class or geographical or cultural background. The festivity is said to have evolved to allow for a growing representation and participation of women in its planning and conduct;

R.2:   The file suggests that inscription would enable other national and international fire festivals and their respective communities in the Mediterranean region to gain attention and become more aware of the significance of their heritage. Inscription would also enhance collective reflection and social understanding in both Spain and abroad. The festival emphasizes creativity in a number of ways (such as in arts and crafts) and its safeguarding allows for the continuity of many skills, crafts and methods. Its use of satirical overtones, poems and other literature can also be seen as an important inspiration to make intangible cultural heritage relevant to the contemporary world;

R.3:   The viability of the element has been ensured by active intergenerational transmission and various safeguarding measures implemented by practitioners, especially the Fallas Commissions – through their own financing, maintaining their associations, exhibitions and museums. The role of the submitting State is also described, such as accreditation of courses, supporting exhibitions, and enabling legislation. Various safeguarding measures are proposed aimed at transmission, documentation, preservation, protection, promotion, dissemination and revitalization of the element. These measures have been proposed by communities, various groups and individuals concerned and they commit to be at the centre of their implementation, with State support;

R.4:   The representatives of communities, diverse groups and individuals concerned have been actively involved in all stages of the nomination, with support from the regional government. These communities are said to have been the driving force behind the application. A wide range of stakeholders, including the directly concerned communities, local town councils, universities, regional government and individual experts provided their free, prior and informed consent in the form of letters of support, both individually and as groups, attached to the file. Access to the element is open to all;

R.5:   The Fallas festivity was included in 2012 in the General Inventory of Valencian Cultural Heritage, maintained and updated by the Regional Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports. The element was later also included, with community participation, in the Register of Assets of Cultural Interest of the Ministry of Culture of the Spanish Government.

  1. Inscribes Valencia Fallas festivity on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.