Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

Categories: Children | Europe | Holidays and Festivals | Nations

Once a year in the small town of Castrillo de Murcia in northern Spain, a man disguised as a yellow demon jumps over several babies. This ritual is a kind of baptism that cleanses children born last year from sin and protects them from diseases. This tradition is called "El Colacho" (El Colacho), and it has been celebrated annually since 1621 on the Sunday following the feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord — about 60 days after Catholic Easter.

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

As in the case of many other European traditions, the pagan roots of the El Colacho rite were transformed into Christian ones. On the day of the celebration, a procession with masked demons, the Catholic community of the town and the rector of the church first takes place.

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

The jump itself was an act of purification as part of the ritual, but since jumping over a baby is not considered an official Christian tradition, at some point Pope Benedict XVI asked Spanish priests to stop participating in the celebration.

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

Nevertheless, the Spanish Church decided, on the contrary, to strengthen its participation in this tradition. Therefore, now, after the demons of El Colacho jumped over the children, the archbishop of Burgos (the province in which the town is located) blesses the babies and sprinkles them with holy water, giving the ritual Catholic features.

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

Photojournalist Rodrigo Mena filmed this year's celebration of El Colacho, which took place on the last weekend of May. He told Vice magazine about how it was.

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

"Now I live in Madrid, but I grew up in Burgos. I've seen reports about El Colacho was in the local press every year when I was a kid, but I never had the opportunity to come to Castrillo de Murcia until this year. I was in Burgos and decided that this was a good opportunity to see everything with my own eyes, and not on TV.

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

No one I spoke to could tell me exactly where the name El Colacho came from. Residents of the town suggested that this could be a reference to a bunch of horsehair, which the demon uses to whip those who offend him. By tradition, he is dressed in a suit and a mask of bright colors and holds this bundle in one hand, and in the other hand he has castanets.

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

El Colacho is the devil incarnate. He jumps over babies to clean them, protect them from all troubles and diseases, especially from hernias.

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

I have not seen anyone who would protest against such a celebration. It was raining quite heavily that day, but the whole city took to the streets.

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

I understand that two guys dressed up as demons who jump over babies may seem a little suspicious to those who are watching this for the first time, but it's not dangerous or outrageous at all. This tradition dates back to 1621, and there have never been any accidents with children. This year I saw it firsthand for the first time, and when you are there, you can see that El Colacho jumps far enough not to step on the children.

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

This year, El Colacho jumped over about a hundred babies. This tradition is very important for parents, especially for those who are strongly connected with the community of Castrillo de Murcia. The kids were smartly dressed, and their parents looked very happy. The ritual is mainly designed for them: preparing the mattress, jumping, blessing their children by the archbishop.

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

People hang sheets, tablecloths or white cloth from balconies as a symbol of cleanliness to scare away the devil. Please note that some mattresses have small altars decorated with flowers and religious symbols. This year, heavy rain slightly overshadowed the celebration, but as soon as the sun appeared, it illuminated bright white blankets and sheets."

Why do Spaniards dress up as demons and jump over babies

Keywords: Demon | Spain | Catholics | Catholicism | Babies | Festivities | Child | Rituals | Traditions | Church | Paganism

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