Baby jumping (El Colacho) is a traditional Spanish practice dating back to 1620 that takes place annually to celebrate the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi in the village of Castrillo de Murcia near Burgos. During the act – known as El Salto del Colacho (the devil’s jump) or simply El Colacho – men dressed as the Devil (known as the Colacho) jump over babies born during the previous twelve months of the year who lie on mattresses in the street.
The Brotherhood of Santísimo Sacramento de Minerva, who organise the festivities chase people around the town throughout the day.
This tradition has reportedly been held in this town since 1620, though its origins are obscure. The event happens every year as part of the festivities associated with Corpus Christi, a Christian feast day that falls on a Thursday between late May and June. This El Colacho festival is frightening because it involves babies — jumping over babies.
The festival starts typically like the usual Spanish fiesta: the streets will be adorned with colorful things and some Spain flags. There’ll be a procession to and from the church, and then a mass is celebrated. The festival is arranged and prepared by the Santisimo Sacramento de Minerva. The members of this brotherhood will dress themselves up as either El Colacho or el Atabalero: the devil and his companion.
After the mass is when the breathtaking stunt begins. The babies are placed on a mattress that’s spread on a street that leads to the church. The babies that are lying on the mattress are the babies born after the last El Colacho festival — less than a year old. Several men wearing costumes as El Colacho and El Atabalero will come out running and head towards the mattress. They will then jump over the mattress where the babies are lying and continue running. The idea is that the devil and his companions have been driven out of the church and out of the town. By jumping over the babies, El Colacho and El Atabalero took with them the ill luck that can befall the babies.
Things get nasty when babies and parents fight over Mom’s attention.
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