Baptize Your Baby In Castrillo de Murcia, Spain (If You Dare)

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Once a year, in the Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia, you may come across a rather alarming scene. Picture this: rows of newborn babies lying neatly across pillows — in the street — with men in devil costumes jumping across them. Repeatedly.

It's called the Baby Jumping Festival, or El Colacho in Spanish, and it's how some Catholic Spaniards choose to baptize their children.

That's One Way To Do It

The Catholic tradition of having your baby baptized by pouring blessed water over their head is well-known. Less traditional (yet, admittedly much more of a spectacle) is the grown-man-jumping-across-them-in-a-devil-costume approach. The tradition in Castrillo de Murcia dates back to at least the 17th century. The origins of the festival are unclear, but, as National Geographic explains, some historians believe it to have been a fertility ritual.

To volunteer your newborn, make your trek to northern Spain 60 days after Easter "during the village's religious feast of Corpus Christi." You'll place your little darling neatly on a pillow with the other soon-to-be baptized, then join the onlookers as men in bright yellow costumes with grotesque masks "begin filing through the crowd, whipping bystanders with switches and generally terrorizing everyone." Sounds like a good time so far, huh? Then, the main event begins: "the flight of the devil."

Sticking To Their Jumps

Why would parents subject their babies to such a thing? Tradition. People believe that once these 'devils' hurdle across their offspring, they're absolved of man's original sin. In other words, they've officially been baptized. Then, the babies are sprinkled with rose petals before they return to their parents (how sweet).

If you're horrified by the thought grown men flinging themselves over newborns, you're not alone. In 2012, Metro UK reported that Pope Benedict specifically requested for Spanish clergy to "distance themselves from the ritual." That wasn't enough to deter Castrillo de Murcia — El Colacho is still held every year.

Here's a bit of reassuring news: no injuries to date! (phew...)

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Written by Curiosity Staff July 15, 2017

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