Do the Spanish have the weirdest festivals in the world? I asked myself this as I made the 43-kilometer trek by taxi from the charming city of Burgos in northern Spain (no public transportation to this remote village).
Since 1621, the superstitious townspeople of Castrillo have celebrated a baby jumping ritual that has turned into a 4-day festival. The belief is that the “devil’s leap” will cleanse the babies of original sin.
As I arrived in this nearly deserted town – I kept thinking that some masked man might pop out and attack me at any moment. I’d seen pictures of the yellow-garbed devil incarnate before, but it wasn’t until a couple hours later that I first got my visual of the jumping, whip-cracking Colacho.
The idea is that the jumpers, in their devil costumes, with whips and truncheons, are personifications of diabolical evil. When they leap, evil follows them and the babies’ souls are cleansed. It’s a communal baptism for those who haven’t traveled around the sun once yet.
The first 4-5 hours of the day until 6pm is a series of four ambles around the village with El Colacho whipping people, his drummer providing the soundtrack, the clergy and church leadership dressed like undertakers, and the townspeople egging El Colacho on and scrambling for cover.
There may have been 500 people at the peak time in the exquisite chapel just before the baby jumping, but during a good portion of the day, there was rarely more than a few hundred. Great local immersion!