general wackiness, Hiccups in History, travel, Uncategorized

The Magic of Spain, Now with Added Babies!

Hiccups in HistoryIn six short weeks I will be returning to Spain, a country I have visited the most in my European travels (just three times, but hopefully more in future years). What better time could there be for reflection and daydreaming?

Think of it … Spain. The very name brings to mind exotic ancient lands and the far-away echo of guitar music. And more, following on the warm, orange-scented breezes.

Whirling flamenco dancers. Sunsets over the ocean. Tapas in picturesque cafes. Baby-jumping in the plaza.

Wait. What?

Yes, it is so. Jumping over babies is apparently a thing in a certain part of Spain. Which brings it squarely into Hiccups in History territory. This series of blog posts celebrates weirdness throughout history. Because my spirit animal is some sort of weird turkey/horse/panther hybrid. Or something.

el_colacho_saltando

By Celestebombin (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons 

Anyhow. This bizarre–dare I say infantile–event takes place in mid-June each year, just after the Feast of Corpus Christi (the blood of Christ). In the north, near Burgos, lies the village of Castrillo de Murcia. The festival of El Colacho dates back to the early 17th century, when good and evil come alive in what may have its roots in the fusion of Christianity and earlier pagan traditions.

Men dressed in red, with yellow masks, dash through the streets impersonating the devil. They insult villagers and whip them with horsehair. All is fun and games terror and hysteria until the sounds of drums herald the arrival of black-clad good guys–atabalero–who drive out the evil.

cofradia_minerva_03220

By Jtspotau (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons 

But first babies born the previous year are laid out on mattresses in the street. As the “devils” leap over them they are thought to absorb the infants’ sins, an act which protects them from future misfortune. The villagers hurl invectives at the devils, thus securing for themselves a reprieve from bad luck.

colacho_salto_danzantes_03250

By Jtspotau (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons 

After a quick spritzer with rose water, the babies are rescued from the mattresses and all is right with the world again. The Catholic Church frowns on the festival, but it continues nevertheless, drawing a growing number of curiosity seekers.

Alas, I will not be around for any baby-jumping festivals when I next travel to Spain. But unusual places appear on the Camino de Santiago as well. During my 2015 trip I came across a village that honors sacred chickens.

Who knows what I will encounter this next time?

 


Sources:

“The Baby Jumping Festival.” Atlas Obscura. Retrieved January 22, 2018. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-baby-jumping-festival.

Khan, Gulaz. “Look Inside Spain’s Bizarre Baby Jumping Festival.” NationalGeographic.com, June 16, 2017. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/europe/spain/el-colacho-baby-jumping-festival-murcia-spain/.

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challenge, hiking, history, photography, travel, Uncategorized

Sacred Chickens – 72-75/100 Camino Photos

Santo Domingo de las Calzada is an ancient pilgrim town that, on the surface, looks much the same as other Camino de Santiago towns. By Stage 9 of the Brierley guidebook you have undoubtedly seen your fair share of them. But surprises await the pilgrim here. Mainly, the poultry:

chickens

How so? Well, it seems that a miracle is involved. The story is located at the town’s official website:

Legend tells of a German Pilgrim called Hugonell who was walking to Santiago with his parents, when they decided to rest at an inn in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The owner of the inn´s daughter immediately fell in love with him; however her feelings were not reciprocated, so the girl, angered, placed a silver cup into his luggage and accused the boy of theft. Thieves at that time were punished by hanging, and this was the fate of Hugonell. His parents, saddened by his death continued the pilgrimage, and upon arriving in Santiago de Compostela, began their return journey to visit the grave of their dead son. When they arrived in Santo Domingo however, they found their son still hanging in the gallows but, miraculously alive. Hugonell, excited, said to them: “Santo Domingo brought back me to life, please go to the Mayor´s house and ask him to take me down”.

Quickly, the parents arrived at the Mayor´s house and told him of the miracle. The incredulous Mayor, who was preparing to have dinner with friends, responded: “That boy is as alive as these two roast chickens we are about to eat,” and suddenly, the chickens came to life, sprouted feathers and beaks and began to crow, and so, to this day there is a saying about the town which goes: “Santo Domingo of the Way, where the roosters crow after being roasted”.

And so it is that a cock and several hens are kept to remind the town of the miracle. There is a place for them in the cathedral (which, sadly, I did not photograph) and the rest of the time they live in the above cage at the Spanish Confraternity’s albergue called Casa del Santo. The birds are shuttled back and forth from place to place, with all due recognition and care, I am certain.

The other thing of note here is the bell tower, which stands across the street from the cathedral for some mysterious but unknown reason. You can see a lovely view of the city from up there.

city

panorama

 

Back at the albergue, I found myself washing my trail clothes next to an exasperated Italian man. “How does one do this?” he asked, flinging water and soap everywhere. I directed him toward the wash brush, and together we cleaned our clothing as it began to sprinkle.

All in all, a memorable day on the Camino!

If you’ve missed any of these photos, feel free to backtrack over here.