Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi traditions

Corpus Christi – meaning and celebrations

Corpus Christi, meaning ‘the body of Christ’, celebrates one of the most important dogmas of the Catholic Church – the belief in the real presence of Jesu Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist. According to the bible, the sacrament of Eucharist, or the Holy Communion, was instituted during the Last Supper, when Jesus shared bread and wine with his disciples.

Corpus Christi is celebrated always on the second Thursday after the Pentecost Sunday (60 days after Easter).

A solemn mass, followed by a procession is the most common form of celebrating Corpus Christi.

One of the most important Corpus Christi processions takes place in Rome, being led by the Pope

El Colacho – the ‘baby-jumping’ tradition in Spain
A very peculiar tradition related to the Corpus Christi day has been preserved in the Spanish town of Castrillo de Murcia, near Burgos, since the 17th century.

During the festive ceremony the city’s inhabitants gather together for the baby-jumping ritual during which men dressed in yellow and red jump over infants lying on the floor. The men symbolize the Devil (referred to as Colacho) and the purpose of the ritual is to ‘cleanse’ the newborns (infants born within the last 12 month preceding the ceremony) from the original sin and to protect them against evil and illnesses.

The traditions of unconfirmed, yet probably pagan origins is somewhat controversial as, according to the Church’s teachings, it is the baptism that eliminates the original sin. Some pope, amongst them, recently, Pope Benedict XVII have called for abandoning this traditions.

Corpus Christi in Portugal
Much like in many other countries, in Portugal Corpus Christi, or Corpo de Deus, is a public holiday (with the exception of years 2013-2015, when it was revoked, being restituted in 2016).

It is celebrated by a solemn mas and religious processions. Villages and towns are festively decorated and, sometimes, floral ‘carpets’ are laid along the course of the procession.

Corpus Christi is often chosen as a date for the first communions.

In Penafiel, in the North of Portugal, the Blacksmith Dance (Dança dos Ferreiros) to accompany the Corpus Christi celebrations traces back to the 13th century tradition of the trade dances, held to the sound of bagpipes.

Penafiel, in Northern Portugal, celebrates Corpus Christi in an original way

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