Whereas most Catholics are baptized into their religion as infants by being gently dunked under cleansing waters, absolving them of their innate original sin, in the Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia fresh babes are laid in the street as men dressed in traditional devil costumes run around jumping over them, terrorizing onlookers.
The yearly festival known locally as “El Colacho” takes place during the village’s religious feast of Corpus Christi.
No concrete origin for the bizarre ritual exists, but it dates back to at least the early 1600s.
During the holiday parents with children born during the previous year bring the little tikes out and place them in neat rows of pillows spaced out down a public street.
Then, while the excited parents look on, men dressed in bright yellow costumes, and grotesque masks begin filing through the crowd, whipping bystanders with switches and generally terrorizing everyone.
But this is all fun and games as the main event is when these “devils” run down the street jumping over the rows of babies like Olympic hurdlers.
Once the little sinners have been jumped over they are considered absolved of man’s original transgression, and they are sprinkled with rose petals before being taken away by their (likely very relieved) parents.
While there are no reports of injuries or babalities caused by the flying devils, the strange practice is frowned upon by the clergy of the Catholic Church with the Pope going so far as to ask the Spanish people to distance themselves from the ritual.
However El Colacho continues to take place each year.
No one can tell this village that they can’t send their devil-men careening over helpless infants.
Revelers run with Torrestrella’s fighting bulls along the Calle Estafeta during the second day of the San Fermin Running Of The Bulls festival on July 7, 2014 in Pamplona, Spain. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
The history of the bullrunning in Pamplona is not clear. There is evidence of the festival from as far back as the 13th century when it seems the events took place in October as this coincided with the festival of San Fermin on October 10th.
It seems that the modern day celebration has evolved from this as well as individual commercial and bullfighting fiestas which can be traced back to the 14th century.
Over many years the mainly religious festival of San Fermin was diluted by music, dancing, bullfights and markets such that the Pamplona Council proposed that the whole event be moved to July 7th when the weather is far more conducive to such a celebration.
To this day San Fermin remains a fixed date every year with the first bullrun at 8am on July 7th and the last at the same time on July 14.
The joining together of the religious, commercial and bullfighting festivals and the move to July 7th led to the first official celebration of San Fermines in 1591.
This inaugural fiesta was a low key affair in comparison to the modern day running of the bulls as it only lasted two days although there was much merriment involving music, a procession and a bullfight.