We made it. I’ve been wanting to visit this crazy festival in Spain for years. El Colacho, or the Baby Jumping Festival, has made almost every top 5 or top 10 strangest / weirdest festivals in the world list I can find.
No where else on this planet can you see a grown man dressed as the devil jump over babies.
It’s unbelievable, and it all happens in the tiny town of Castrillo de Murcia.
The party itself is so much more than baby jumping, it’s actually 4 days long, and the “main event” only the last hour on the last day. What happens is actually quite beautiful, and not as strange, weird, or crazy as you might think. There is a bit of a story behind the event. What they think happened, is that this festival was grandfathered in before Christianity arrived in the area. It was adopted and modified to fit the new belief system, and here it still stands today. It is considered very pagan by many people, and perhaps it was, but now its been fused into a different form.
The full name is El Salto de el Colacho, meaning “The Jump of the Devil”, but there’s more to the fiesta than that. It’s a battle between good an evil. The townspeople pray to god, and the devil comes to interfere. The local children of the town mock him, and he chases them around with a whip. When the final prayers are said, the devil realizes he’s lost the battle and flees from the cathedral. Babies are placed on mattresses in the streets, and the Original Sin (from Adam and Eve) and any diseases the babies might have stick to the devil during his retreat. It’s like an elaborate baptism of the children, and also the only place in the world where a figure of a devil is allowed to enter the church.
There isn’t much online about this amazing festival, so I’m hoping I got the information mostly right. Whether you agree or disagree with what happens here it’s important to understand is that is local tradition, and for the parents and the children, one of the most important days of their lives. No child has even been hurt during this festival, and what we saw was extreme care, tenderness, and respect. Also the amount of smiling, laughing, and joy was contagious. While looking a bit crazy, reckless, and unbelievable on the outside, all we saw was beauty.