Castrillo de Murcia, Spain
Coordinates: 42 21 N 4 3 W
Population: 246 (2006 est.)
Certainly Pamplona’s running of the bulls and possibly the annual city-wide tomato fight in Buñol are well known outside of Spain, but the number of people aware of this Catholic country’s baby jumping tradition (yes, you read that right), is probably a lot smaller. Those who have seen it however, understand that it’s no less compelling to behold. For nearly four centuries, men from the tiny northern town of Castrillo de Murcia have been jumping infants each June to cleanse them of evil. Colorfully costumed as El Colacho, a representation of the devil, they vault two rows of children born in the last 12 months in an unusual blend of faith and folklore. Don’t let the strangeness of this event give you the wrong idea about this community though, the rest of the year is decidedly less hazardous for newborns born here in the foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains.
Ben Keene is the editor of Oxford Atlas of the World. Check out some of his previous places of the week.