The yearly traditional Baby Jumping festival, locally known as El Colacho, takes place 60 days after Easter during the village’s religious feast of Corpus Christi.
Usually, Catholics are baptized as infants by gently dousing them under cleansing waters, absolving them of their original sin. However, in the Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia, people follow a strange tradition, when the newborn babies are placed on soft mattresses with neat rows of pillows spaced out down a public street. While the excited and apprehensive parents wait anxiously, men dressed in bright yellow costumes and grotesque masks begin filing through the crowd. They start the show by hurling insults at the villagers, whipping the bystanders with a horsetail attached to a stick and thus, try to terrorize everyone.
After that, with the sound of the drums the main act, known as El Salto del Colacho (the devil's jump) or simply El Colacho takes place, as the men dressed as the Devils (Colacho) run down the street and jump over the rows of babies, like a hurdle race. Thus, as the little sinners have been jumped over, they are considered absolved of man’s original transgression and are sprinkled with rose petals before being promptly taken away by their relieved parents.
The weeklong festival, which culminates on Sunday with jumping over the babies, is organized by the Brotherhood of Santísimo Sacramento de Minerva. The villagers believe that the devil absorbs the sins of the babies, and affords them protection from disease and misfortune. Spectators lining the streets also scold and reprove the Colacho to ward off their own bad luck for the upcoming year.
The traditional Baby Jumping Festival of El Colacho is actually, a blend of Catholic and pagan rituals meant to represent the triumph of good over evil. Though no concrete origin of the bizarre ritual is known, it dates back to at least the early 17th Century and some historians believe it may have started as a fertility ritual.
Till date, there are no reports of injuries caused by the heart-stopping display by the flying devils and in recent years people from around the world have traveled to northern Spain to participate and enjoy the festival.
However, the Catholic Church does not endorse the age-old strange traditional practice. As reported by Metro UK in 2012, Pope Benedict asked the Spanish priests to distance themselves from El Colacho,as the Church still teaches that, original sin can only be cleansed by the sacrament of a valid baptism.