7 Facts About Baby Jumping: A Strange Spanish Tradition

By Antonia Čirjak on March 14 2020 in Society

Baby jumping is the name of a traditional Spanish celebration that dates all the way back to the 17th century. Image credit: nationalgeographic.com
Baby jumping is the name of a traditional Spanish celebration that dates all the way back to the 17th century. Image credit: nationalgeographic.com
  • The tradition of baby jumping originated in the 17th century, but the exact origins are unknown.
  • The celebration is held at Castrillo de Murcia, a small village in northern Spain.
  • Pope Benedict believes that only baptism can rid children of the original sin, so he condemns this event.

Baby jumping is the name of a traditional Spanish celebration that dates all the way back to the 17th century. The Spanish name for this festival is El Colacho. It is celebrated every year in honor of the Catholic holiday Corpus Christi. The place where this celebration is held is Castrillo de Murcia, a small village in the Spanish province of Burgos. What exactly happens during this weird tradition?

Well, the adult villagers dress up as the Devil, wearing red and yellow costumes, and they jump over babies that were born during the previous year. The babies are laid on mattresses in the street, and the “devils” hold whips in their hands while they jump over the infants. It makes no sense, but the reasoning behind it is that it should cleanse the babies of the original sin. Here are some more facts about this weird tradition.

The Festivities Last For A Week

The celebration is organized by the Brotherhood of Santisimo Sacramento de Minerva. Image credit: lonelyplanet.com
The celebration is organized by the Brotherhood of Santisimo Sacramento de Minerva. Image credit: lonelyplanet.com

Although the baby jumping happens on Sunday, the festivities leading up to it start a week earlier. The celebration is organized by the Brotherhood of Santisimo Sacramento de Minerva, and a lot is going on before the entire event culminates with the procession through the village on Sunday.

The week-long celebration is a part of the Corpus Christi holiday that is celebrated all over Spain. There are processions and mystery plays being held throughout the entire country. However, baby jumping, or El Colacho, is unique to the village of Castrillo de Murcia.

The Origins Are Unknown

Castrillo de Murcia
Castrillo de Murcia

This celebration is one where we would love to know how and why it started, but that information is unknown. We do know that it began in 1620, that it is organized by the Brotherhood of Santisimo Sacramento de Minerva, but that is about it.

Everything else is shrouded in mystery, and because the event only happens in a one, small village, we guess that no one cared enough to find out. That is a shame because we are sure that a fascinating story awaits someone who would dare to delve deeper into the secrets of this tradition. But where to start? Maybe by paying a visit to Castrillo de Murcia?

The Warmup Is Also Weird

During the entire day, a man dressed as the Devil, the Coacho, runs through the village, holding a whip and attacks people by whipping them. Image credit: nationalgeographic.com/
During the entire day, a man dressed as the Devil, the Coacho, runs through the village, holding a whip and attacks people by whipping them. Image credit: nationalgeographic.com/

While the event of jumping over babies is super strange by itself, it was not enough for the people of Castrillo de Murcia. During the entire day, a man dressed as the Devil, the Coacho, runs through the village, holding a whip and attacks people by whipping them.

His whip is made out of a stick with a horsetail attached to it, so do not expect anyone to get hurt, thankfully. The villagers and visitors are not expected to hold back; they are encouraged to throw insults at him. His terror is all in good fun of course, and no one gets hurt, but it still seems extremely weird, if you ask us. 

The Main Event

The “devils,” or men wearing costumes, then leap over the infants, in this weird version of baptism. Image credit: matadornetwork.com
The “devils,” or men wearing costumes, then leap over the infants, in this weird version of baptism. Image credit: matadornetwork.com

Once it is time for the actual event to start, the situation turns dramatic. The arrival of the atabalero, the men whose goal is to drive out evil, is announced by drums, and the flight of the devil, originally el salto del Colacho, can begin. Babies that were born during the previous year are then laid on mattresses in the street. There are even newborns amongst them, and they are laid throughout the main street. The “devils,” or men wearing costumes, then leap over the infants, in this weird version of baptism.

The belief is that the devil should absorb the original sin from the babies, and grant them protection from all misfortune and disease. The people standing on the sides of the street continue to insult Colacho so they can continue having good luck as well. Once the event is over, the babies are sprinkled with rose petals, and their parents are allowed to take them.

Children From Outside Are Allowed

Initially, only local babies were included in the celebration, but that has changed over the last several years. Image credit: ibtimes.co.in
Initially, only local babies were included in the celebration, but that has changed over the last several years. Image credit: ibtimes.co.in

Initially, only local babies were included in the celebration, but that has changed over the last several years. People from all over the world began traveling to Castrillo de Murcia to participate in this event.

Maybe it is because some are incredibly religious and are taking every precaution they can to get rid of bad luck, or are just curious and want to have fun during a wild celebration. Still, baby jumping has been gaining popularity amongst outsiders. 

The Event Is Completely Safe

In the history of El Colacho, no baby has ever been reported of being injured. The same goes for all of the adults being whipped and terrorized by the “devil.” Image source: nationalgeographic.com
In the history of El Colacho, no baby has ever been reported of being injured. The same goes for all of the adults being whipped and terrorized by the “devil.” Image source: nationalgeographic.com

In the history of El Colacho, no baby has ever been reported of being injured. The same goes for all of the adults being whipped and terrorized by the “devil.”

This may come as a surprise, seeing as how dangerous it may seem to leave babies on the floor and have people jumping over them, but it seems that since the tradition has been going on for so long, people are used to it and know how to approach it. That is not to say that there are not people who would rather see this entire thing shut down; the Catholic Church does not look too fondly upon this tradition.

The Pope Condemned The Event

Pope Benedict asked the Spanish priests not to support this tradition. Image credit: Jeffrey Bruno / Shutterstock.com
Pope Benedict asked the Spanish priests not to support this tradition. Image credit: Jeffrey Bruno / Shutterstock.com

Pope Benedict asked the Spanish priests not to support this tradition. He wishes that the rest of the countries’ clergy distances itself from it because of the message it sends, and the implications it has for the rest of the Christian faith.

According to the teachings of the Church, the original sin can only be cleansed by baptism, so the celebration of baby jumping clashes with one of the most sacred beliefs in Christianity. 

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