You've Probably Never Heard Of This Baby-Jumping Festival In Spain

The devil makes an appearance too.

All around the world people celebrate — whether it's Christmas, Ramadan, Chanukah or Kwanzaa, we all have our own ways of expressing beliefs and forming community.

There are, however, a few lesser known rituals you've probably never heard of that make the world seem a whole lot bigger. Among them, El Salto del Colacho, which means the devil's leap — because in this festival, the "devil" leaps over babies.

The annual celebration happens in Castrillo de Murcia, Burgos, Spain and through the amazing images of UK photographer Nick gammon, we can see just what makes this particular festival so fascinating.

It begins with a man dressed all in yellow.


 

He looks kind of creepy, right?

© Nick Gammon
© Nick Gammon

That's because he's supposed to represent the devil.

© Nick Gammon
© Nick Gammon

But when the devil comes to this particular town, he not only terrorizes residents — He jumps over rows of tiny babies. 

This jumping-baby ritual is called El Colacho and is a part of the Corpus Christi Catholic celebration, which happens 60 days after Easter.

© Nick Gammon
© Nick Gammon

Corpus Christi, also known as the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, is meant to celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the Last Supper. 

But why is the devil jumping over little babies?

© Nick Gammon
© Nick Gammon

"The yellow man, El Colacho, represents the devil and it is believed that when he jumps over a baby it will be cleansed of its original sin," writes Gannon in a caption for his photographs on Tumblr


The babies selected for the ritual must be under 12 months old.

Nobody knows the exact origins of why this festival began, but it's been happening since the 17th century.

© Nick Gammon
© Nick Gammon

According to Slate, the festival is thought to have pagan origins.

Luckily, the devil is always an expert jumper, and there has never been a report of an infant getting hurt during the festivities.

© Nick Gammon
© Nick Gammon

Still, some members of the Catholic church have tried to distance themselves from this unusual ritual.

Metro UK contributor Xav Judd attended the festival and wrote: "Some see the nature of this festival as dangerous and Pope Benedict XVI has directed Spanish priests to distance themselves from it. Pedro, my taxi driver, laughs this off. 'It's just a hilarious, historic way for the community to cleanse their children's evil spirits,' he says."

That's why the Pope's resistance doesn't stop this Spanish town from partaking in the fun. 

According to the photographer, before the festival begins, El Colacho surrounds himself with a group of worthy men known as "the confraternity."

© Nick Gammon
© Nick Gammon

As part of the ritual, El Colacho also carries a whip made of horsehair to "beat" bystanders.

© Nick Gammon
© Nick Gammon

But it's all in good fun, and everyone has a good time watching the giant leaps.

Because who doesn't enjoy a little danger?

© Nick Gammon
© Nick Gammon

Even the babies don't seem to mind it.

© Nick Gammon
© Nick Gammon

Except maybe this one:

But it's all worth it, because when the ritual ends the infants are officially cleansed of original sin.

© Nick Gammon
© Nick Gammon

Confirmed girls throw rose petals over the babies, who then get blessed by the priest.

© Nick Gammon
© Nick Gammon

Celebrations and parades commence.

© Nick Gammon
© Nick Gammon

Learn more about this amazing festival here:

(H/T The Guardian

To see more of Nick Gammon's photography, check out his website or Tumblr. 

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