Yes, you read it right and no, the explanation doesn’t make it any less weird.
Since the 1620’s El colacho or The Baby-jumping Festival has been held annually in a small town called Castillo de Murcia in the North of Spain. The festival (or “la fiesta”) is part of a longer string of other celebrations that are all a part of the time of Corpus Christi. Whilst many towns have their own celebrations, it is El colacho that garners the most interest, for reasons that are about to become very apparent…
So, what exactly happens during the festival?
Well, babies are placed onto blankets and pillows in rows of two and laid in the centre of a street at intervals of a few tens of metres. Then, having already filtered through the crowds lining the streets, generally terrorising the onlookers, men dressed in bright red and yellow Devil costumes with quite frankly terrifying masks run through the village, leaping over the babies as they go like hurdles at a Sports’ Day.
Unfortunately the tradition’s roots are shrouded in mystery but it is obvious that it is heavily influenced by religion. It could be said that there is a strong case for it being a replacement for baptism within the village. After-all, the point of baptism is essentially to cleanse a baby of original sin and, in much the same way, the baby-jumping ritual is said to cleanse new-born babies of all evil-doings, whilst offering them protection from such misfortune in the future.
Upon hearing about this I did wonder if (god-forbid) there had ever been any accidents with such a festival. But I did some research and luckily no baby has ever been harmed because of this tradition…perhaps the ritual does have some effect after-all.
But what happens if you aren’t leapt over by devils as a baby? Does that mean you’re forever vulnerable to misfortune and evil?
Nope! Not to worry, if you miss the opportunity of taking part in El colacho, you can always just leap through a ring of fire in Granada (in the south of Spain) on the 21st of December, once you’ve become an adult.