The seemingly serene Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia turns into a devil’s playground once a year, a spectacle that is as heart-stopping as it is fascinating. Enter the world of El Colacho, a unique festival that seamlessly blends the spiritual and the bizarre in a tradition dating back to the 17th century.
El Colacho, also known as the baby-jumping festival, sees men garbed in yellow and red suits, representing the devil, leaping over newborn babies strewn on mattresses in the street. This jaw-dropping sight is not an adrenaline-induced sport but rather a religious rite meant to cleanse the infants of ‘original sin’ and guard them against future misfortunes. This unique practice was granted a papal blessing by Pope Gregory XV back in 1621, marking the commencement of the official ceremony.
The festival, held annually in mid-June, is shrouded in profound symbolism. By having the devil figures leap over the babies, the villagers celebrate the triumph of good over evil, a reflection of the blend of Catholic and pagan rituals that define the festival’s character. This is no small feat, considering that El Colacho culminates the four-day celebration following the Feast of Corpus Christi, a significant occasion in the Catholic liturgical calendar.
The festival is not confined to the devil’s jumps. It’s a sensory experience, filled with the cacophony of drums announcing the arrival of the black-clad atabalero, pious men come to drive out evil, and the whip-cracking devils hurling insults and chasing villagers. Amid the chaos, there’s an air of respect for the profound act of spiritual cleansing and protection it represents for the little ones.
Despite the seemingly dangerous act of leaping over infants, the festival has managed to maintain its charm, attracting tourists and locals alike. The unique fusion of faith, culture, and a dash of daredevilry ensure El Colacho’s firm place in Spain’s colorful tapestry of festivals, further cementing its reputation as one of the most outlandish and intriguing events in the country.