The Baby Jumping Festival
During an annual Catholic feast in this tiny Spanish village, men dressed as devils leap over rows of babies to cleanse them of sin.
Whereas most Catholics are baptized into their religion as infants by being gently dunked under cleansing waters, absolving them of their innate original sin, in the Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia fresh babes are laid in the street as men dressed in traditional devil costumes run around jumping over them, terrorizing onlookers.
The yearly festival known locally as “El Colacho” takes place during the village’s religious feast of Corpus Christi. No concrete origin for the bizarre ritual exists, but it dates back to at least the early 1600s. During the holiday parents with children born during the previous year bring the little tikes out and place them in neat rows of pillows spaced out down a public street. Then, while the excited parents look on, men dressed in bright yellow costumes, and grotesque masks begin filing through the crowd, whipping bystanders with switches and generally terrorizing everyone. But this is all fun and games as the main event is when these “devils” run down the street jumping over the rows of babies like Olympic hurdlers. Once the little sinners have been jumped over they are considered absolved of man’s original transgression, and they are sprinkled with rose petals before being taken away by their (likely very relieved) parents.
While there are no reports of injuries or babalities caused by the flying devils, the strange practice is frowned upon by the clergy of the Catholic Church with Pope Benedict going so far as to ask the Spanish people to distance themselves from the ritual. However El Colacho continues to take place each year. No one can tell THIS village that they can’t send their devil-men careening over helpless infants.
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