Most Catholics are baptized into their religion as infants by being gently dunked under cleansing waters, absolving them of their original sin. In the Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia, however, fresh babes are laid in the street so men dressed in traditional devil costumes can run around jumping over them.
The yearly festival, known locally as El Colacho, takes place 60 days after Easter during the village’s religious feast of Corpus Christi. No concrete origin for the bizarre ritual exists, but it dates back to at least the early 17th century. During the holiday, parents with children born during the previous year bring the little tykes out and place them in neat rows of pillows spaced out down a public street. Then, while the excited parents look on, men dressed in bright yellow costumes and grotesque masks begin filing through the crowd, whipping bystanders with switches and generally terrorizing everyone.
This is all fun and games, as the main event is when these “devils” run down the street jumping over the rows of babies like Olympic hurdlers. Once the little sinners have been jumped over, they are considered absolved of man’s original transgression, and are sprinkled with rose petals before being taken away by their (likely very relieved) parents.
While there are no reports of injuries or babalities caused by the flying devils, the strange practice has been frowned upon by some of the higher-ups at the Catholic Church: in 2012, Metro UK reported that Pope Benedict went so far as to ask Spanish clergy to distance themselves from the ritual. However, El Colacho continues to take place each year. No one can tell this village that they can’t send it devil-men careening over helpless infants.
Fascinating festivals to experience: