Baby Jumping Festival (El Colacho)

Baby Jumping Festival (El Colacho)
The Feast of Corpus Christi is a Western Christian holiday which celebrates the belief in the body and blood of Jesus Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist (Holy Communion). In many parts of Europe, there are folk celebrations on Corpus Christi Day, dating back to the Middle Ages. For example, the village of Castrillo de Murcia in Spain hosts a baby jumping festival known as El Colacho.

The baby jumping festival was founded in 1621 and has been held annually ever since. The event takes place in Castrillo de Murcia, a small village near Burgos, the historic capital of Castile. It was officially declared the tourist interest of Castile and León. The festival itself is preceded by a week of festivities organized by the Brotherhood of Santísimo Sacramento de Minerva.

The festival was named El Colacho after traditional characters, men in red and yellow costumes that represent the Devil (known as the Colacho). The ritual around which the festival is centered is known as the devil’s jump (El Salto de Colacho).

During the festival babies born during the previous twelve months are laid on mattresses along the streets of Castrillo de Murcia. Men dressed as the Colacho march along the streets, holding big castanets and whips, and jump over the babies on their way. The origins of this rather strange tradition are unknown but it is believed to cleanse the babies of original sin, guard them against evil spirits and illness, and ensure them a safe passage through life.

The Catholic Church doesn’t exactly approve of the tradition because in Christianity it is baptism that cleanses the soul of original sin. That’s why Pope Benedict XVI once asked Spanish priests to distance themselves from the festival of El Colacho. However, the tradition is still very popular among locals and tourists alike. Of course, it’s unclear whether it actually does any good to the babies, but at the very least it is unique and entertaining.

El Colacho

Photo: Helder Rui




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