El Colacho: A Baby Jumping Festival in Spain

September 29, 2014

Every first Saturday after Corpus Christi in the Spanish town of Castrillo de Murcia, an odd festival warmly invites its spectators to see the significant events that will probably make them watch with excitement and fear. This festival is known locally as “El Colacho“, but to make it more mind-striking to those who haven’t heard of it, it’s internationally known as the Baby Jumping Festival.

Photo by: Nick Gammon via Flickr

Photo by: Nick Gammon via Flickr

Photo by: Nick Gammon via Flickr

Photo by: Nick Gammon via Flickr

The name already suggests first-timers what to expect: babies and jumping over them. The Baby Jumping Festival might sound absurd and something that’s just formed out of boredom, but it is in fact a religious ritual that has been passed on for centuries. This ritual can be only seen in Castrillo de Murcia and was first done in 1620. The point of “baby jumping” is to bless the newborn children and remove the original sin to make them all ready to follow God’s path.

Photo by: Nick Gammon via Flickr

Photo by: Nick Gammon via Flickr

Photo via: Fest300

Photo via: Fest300

Photo via: Fest300

Photo via: Fest300

Does it sound like baptism? It surely is similar with the goals each has to reach: to be cleansed and be protected; but the cleansing through holy water doesn’t sound as strange and dangerous as what’s done in the Baby Jumping Festival. In fact, the Spanish church officials have discouraged the Catholic people and priests to let their babies join this festival and insist that they should stick with the traditional (and safer) type of baptism.

Photo via: Fest300

Photo via: Fest300

Photo via: Fest300

Photo via: Fest300

Before the main event, the “devils” or men dressed in yellow and red suits slowly walk the streets of the town and suddenly charge forward to the village’s onlookers, chasing and whipping them. Don’t just stand in there, because it’ll hurt for sure.

Photo by: Ruben Fernandez via Flickr

Photo by: Ruben Fernandez via Flickr

On to the festival’s highlight, the babies who’re participating the “cleansing” are laid on two rows of bedding with their parents on the side who’ll watch over them. So far, there are no reports about devils who had even the slightest chance to step (or drop entirely) on a baby. After the babies are jumped over, they are showered with flower petals for a job well done.

Photo via: Fest300

Photo via: Fest300

The day ends with the clueless babies removed from their beds and later followed by a parade that goes through the streets of Castrillo. The parade continues until the people reach the town church atop a hill. After that, the people can happily celebrate the end of the Baby Jumping Festival with a party.

Photo by: asirthomas1965 via Flickr

Photo by: asirthomas1965 via Flickr

Photo by: asirthomas1965 via Flickr

Photo by: asirthomas1965 via Flickr

You might not have heard much about the town of Castrillo de Murcia but this town with a population of just 500 or so is just near Burgos (27 miles away), a city at the northern part of Spain. Take note that the baby jumping happens at 6:00 pm, so you could spend first your time on the festival’s daytime activities which you can witness in the town’s church, town square, or the circular promenade around it.

Don’t be shy to binge at the town square with the wine and locally-made pastries served to everyone celebrating. You won’t definitely want to miss what’s happening outside so before you walk the streets, be sure to wear long pants because seriously, it isn’t a joke to get whipped by these masked devils.