Monday, May 26, 2008

It's Not Exactly an Olympic Event

Every year since 1620 in the Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia (that's in Spain), there is the Catholic festival of Corpus Christi (not the Texas town). The festival is to mark the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi. It's apparently a very festive festival and is widely celebrated in Spain (not so much in Texas). They have the usual festival festivities there. The dancers, the plays, the eating, the grown men dressed like the devil jumping over small infants on mattresses. Wait. What?

It would seem as if Spain and those over yonder in the Philippines have a lot in common when it comes to slightly odd (Translation: WTF) celebratory practices. (You remember those over in the Philippines. The ones who like to re-enact the nailing of Christ to the cross by actually nailing themselves to crosses? Hey, I'm not judging! I'm just saying I like my holidays to be a little less...nail-y. That's all.) And I'm going to try and explain this oddity in as equal of a colorful fashion as I can. (I'm not thinking it's going to take a lot of effort. Sometimes, the really f-ing weird stuff is just funny in and of itself.)

Here's the scoop: The purpose of this strange ritual is meant to ward off the devil. In the village, men dress up as the Colacho. The Colacho is a character that represents the devil. (Now, I would think that if your goal was to "ward off" something, you wouldn't dress up like the thing you were wanting to "ward off". That seems an awful lot like something you would do if you wanted to "ward on" something. But what do I know? I'm not Spanish. But I do think I'm onto something.)

For other reasons that I have yet to understand (or find the origin of), another part of warding off the devil, aside from dressing up LIKE the devil, is to run and leap over clusters of infants that are laid out on mattresses. Of course. Wait. One more time?

Behold! Spaniards dressed like the devil jumping over babies dressed like babies!

According to our friends across the pond at the BBC, "Nobody appears to get hurt in this year's festive event." (Again, note the use of the term "festive" and how it can easily be interchanged with the term "freaking weird". They're tricky like that in Europe.) Well, and I should say that it's a good thing that nobody got hurt because if someone were to get hurt, I'm guessing it would have to be the babies! Who else is there? The brilliantly clad, leaping Spanish guy? I'm thinking he can hold his own! The helpless children, laid atop a mattress for the sole purpose of being leapt over? They're at the mercy of a guy dressed like the devil. And that isn't comforting for anyone, especially the children. I mean, look at the picture below. Do the people, presumably the parents, look all that comfortable with this? I'm not sure what the one hand on the kid is going to do is suddenly Macho Colacho steps on a banana peel or something and the whole thing goes horribly awry. But again, I'm still not Spanish, so what do I know?

I guess they don't just jump over babies at this festival (though I'm sure it's the highlight). There are other things that do not involve children in woolly feet-y pajamas. As the BBC tells us, "The shadowy brotherhood of Santísimo Sacramento de Minerva, the people responsible for organising the celebrations,dress up as devils and harass party-goers as they chase and terrorise anybody and everybody in the town at regular intervals throughout the day." How exciting! Not only do you get to watch in horror while infants unwillingly participate as the obstacle in a Spanish hurdling/devil warding off sporting event, you also get to be chased and terrorized by members of a "shadowy brotherhood." But wait! There's more!

"In addition to the devil costumes, participants also carry whips and truncheons to appear extra horrible." In case you are unfamiliar with what a "truncheon" is, allow me. A truncheon, while it sounds like "luncheon" (something quite pleasant), it is neither a "luncheon", nor is it "pleasant". A truncheon is a club-like weapon, small enough to be wielded in one hand. (Think of the club of a caveman. Only a Spanish cave man jumping over infants. Oh, and make sure he's dressed like the devil in this vision you're concocting.) OK, now you're with me!

WTF? Jumping over babies? Dressing like the devil? Terrorizing party-goers? Wielding clubs and whips? Why am I so surprised that no one is naked during this thing? Come on, you know you've read this far and you've been expecting "penis" to just jump out at you at some point. (Oh, not literally, for cryin' out loud! No one wants that!) But once again, we have an instance of a very, very bizarre ritual that a LOT of people seem to take VERY seriously and there is NO logical explanation for it at all. None. "Jump over a baby, get rid of the devil." Why? No one ever asks WHY! They just do it! Look, I might not have a kid, but even still, I'm not putting anything of value (a relative, an animal, a sandwich) on a mattress for some guy I don't even know to jump over because there is some unknown reason that I am just supposed to do it. No thanks. I'll ward off the devil my own ways from now on, thank you very much.

Stumble Upon Toolbar Sphere: Related Content

No comments: