This is a traditional Spanish holiday dating back to 1620 that takes place annually to celebrate the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi in Burgos. During the act, known as El Salto del Colacho (the devil’s jump) or simply El Colacho, men dressed as the Devil ( known as the Colacho) in red and yellow jump suits jump over babies born during the previous twelves months of the year who lie on mattresses in the street. The ”devils” hold whips and oversized castanets as they bravely over the unaware infants.
The Brotherhood of Santisimo Sacramento de Minerva organizes the week-long festivities which culminate on Sunday when the Colacho jumps over the babies on the mattresses placed on the procession route traversing the town. The origins of the tradition are unknown but it is said to cleanse the babies of original sin, ensure them safe passage through life and guard aganist illness and evil spirits. In recent years, Pope Benedict has asked Spanish priests to distance themselves from El Colacho, and to downplay the tradition’s connection with Catholicism.
The Church still teaches that it is baptism by water, not a giant leap by an airborne devil, which cleanses the soul.
Anyone who has a newborn addition to their family can bring their baby along to this festival known as the El Colacho which has taken place on an annual basis since way back in the 1620’s. The festival itself is part of the celebrations held all over Spain for the Catholic festival of Corpus Christi and whilst at this particular time many other cities and towns have spectacular processions and a vaiety of other popular means of revelling and enjoying themselves, there is only one Baby Jumping Festival.
The babies are laid on the ground in swaddling clothes and grown men, yes adult males, dressed as devils jump over the infants and this is supposed to cleanse them of all evil doings. The question of who is protecting the babies from the example being set by the adults begs to be asked but who are we to doubt this traditional combination of religion and Spanish folklore which proves to be great fun, if not a little scary, to watch……