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El Colacho: Is this Spain's most bizarre festival?

The Local Spain
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El Colacho: Is this Spain's most bizarre festival?
The "Colacho", a character that represents the devil, jumps over babies lying on a mattress in the street during 'El Salto del Colacho' (The Devil's Jump) baby jumping festival. Photo: CESAR MANSO / AFP

Let’s face it, there's some pretty stiff competition when it comes to choosing the strangest fiesta in Spain. But could this baby-jumping festival which usually takes place in June take the crown?

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There’s La Tomatina in Buñol, which involves a town pelting rotting tomatoes at each other, there’s the flour and egg battle of Enfarinats.

Then there’s Jarramplas, when villagers in Piornal pelt a man dressed in an outfit of colourful rags with hard turnips.

But by far the most outlandish is a festival that takes place next weekend in Castrillo de Murcia, near Burgos, where for more than four centuries townsfolk have been celebrating Corpus Christi in the most unusual way.

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It’s a festival that should send chills down the spine of new parents, let alone health and safety inspectors, because El Colacho involves lying babies born in the last 12 months on the street so that men dressed in bizarre costumes can leap over them.

A priest blesses the babies before "El Salto del Colacho" (The Devil's Jump) baby jumping festival. (Photo by CESAR MANSO / AFP)

What does it all mean? You may well ask. The men dressed in yellow and red costumes represent the devil and they leap over new born babies to rid them of ‘original sin’.

Babies are brought from across the region, dressed in the Sunday best, and laid four to a mattress in the street so the devils can run and leap over them.

"El Colacho" is a traditional Spanish ritual dating back to 1620 during which men representing the Devil jump over babies born in the last twelve months of the year and takes place annually to celebrate the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi. (Photo by CESAR MANSO / AFP)

Those babies that survive (only kidding, they all do) are then showered with rose petals before being retrieved by their anxious parents who then go and enjoy a day’s fiesta involving dancing, feasting and of course, because this is a Spanish fiesta, imbibing copious amounts of wine.

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The festival takes place the Sunday after Corpus Christi – and although for the last two years the festival hasn't been held due to the pandemic, it usually goes ahead in June.

The "Colacho" chases revellers with a whip in his hand. (Photo by CESAR MANSO / AFP)

The baby jumping part of the festivities is the culmination of celebrations but the fiesta also involves the ‘devils’ running through the streets while youths of the town shout insults at them.

The idea is to shout and run because if the devil gets close enough he will lash out at you with a horse-hair whip.

See it for yourself:

Castrillo de Murcia is a small town about a 35 minute drive from Burgos, which is either a 2.5-hour bus ride or 4.5 hour-train ride from Madrid.

READ MORE: Is the Battle of the Wine Spain's coolest festival?

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