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Spain Held Its Annual Devil Baby Jumping Festival

A northern Spanish village marks the feast of Corpus Christi by getting men to dress as the devil and hurdle newborn babies in the street.

by Olivia Becker
Jun 23 2014, 4:55pm

Photo via Getty

The Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia held its yearly baby jumping ceremony on Sunday, which involves men dressed as devils leaping over newborns in the street.

El Salto del Colacho, or the devil's jump, celebrates the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi. This particular town, near Burgos in northern Spain, has been marking the occasion with this bizarre tradition every year since 1620. This year's feast fell on Thursday June 19 and the El Colacho festivities culminate on the following Sunday.

Newborns are sprinkled with confetti and flower petals before being laid out on mattresses where men dressed in a yellow and red suits run and hurdle over them. The practice is meant to cleanse the infants of original sin and protect them from future evils. Afterwards, the town is also said to be cleansed of original sin.

The devil figure also chases and whips onlookers in the village.

The Corpus Christi feast is a major holiday in Spain honoring Jesus’ body and blood, and celebrating his presence at the Eucharist. In this religious tradition the Eucharist is usually celebrated by a solemn procession carrying the body of Christ through the streets. Castrillo de Murcia is the only village that celebrates the feast by men dressed as devils jumping over wailing infants.

Although no babies were harmed, the celebration is controversial for its lax safety precautions and Spanish priests have also distanced themselves from it.

But in a country where the torture and public killing of a bull is a national pastime, baby jumping might not be the strangest ceremony. Semana Santa, or the Holy Week before Easter, is marked in Andalusia with creepy pointed-hood-wearing penitents marching through the streets and swinging incense.

Then there's goat throwing, where every January a live animal was thrown 50 feet from the top of church tower in the village of Manganeses de la Polvorosa, and caught in a sheet at the bottom. This tradition was banned in 2002, however, and this year a soft toy goat was hurled off the church instead.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928

All photos by Getty Images