Bizarre Baby Jumping Festival Still Going After 400 Years
Every summer on June 23, men dressed as the "devil" hurdle down the streets vaulting over newborn babies.
This happens in a small town in Spain called Castrillo de Murcia during the village’s religious feast of Corpus Christi, and this fun activity has been around for quite some time now. The devils usually jump over around 100 newborns, while 3,000 people watch from the sidelines and cheer the interestingly dressed men. There is a criterion for the babies in this festival, as they need to be born in Castrillo or somewhere nearby, and they must be less than one-year-old. This Catholic celebration of El Salto del Colacho ("The Devil's Jump"), has been going on in Castrillo for centuries, as the first one was in 1620.
The jumpers represent the devil who is removing evil from the babies, carrying whips and castanets to drive off spirits, the devils will jump over 100 babies before chasing older children in the town square. Locals say there hasn't been an injury in this intriguing competition that started 398 years ago.
Dressed in traditional costumes meant to make them look like the devil when the clock strikes 6:00 p.m they start from the town's old church and jump over small mattresses where the babies are places. The idea is that the evil spirits stick to the devils as the jump over the little ones. Jumpers hold horsehair, as well as the aforementioned whips and castanets which they use to drive away evil.
Residents hang white sheets from their balconies which symbolize purity, which banishes evil by their Catholic beliefs.
Rose petal covered mattresses are there to comfortably hold the babies as they lie there blissfully unaware of the festivities, while two ladies on each side, secure them. At the end of it all, young boys and girls also taunt the devils, until they chase them through the town square. The abbots from the local Brotherhood of Santisimo Sacramento de Minerva are the ones that organize the celebration, and they are the ones who bless the babies. One requirement that the runners need to fulfill is that they need to be a member of the brotherhood for them to be in the race.