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Photo of Los Matachines dancing in front of a cross
Los Matachines dance in front of the cross on Anna Street in Laredo

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Los Matachines de la Santa Cruz
A Local Legacy

The people wearing those beautiful costumes in the photo are doing a type of dance that has been done for more than a century. The dancers are part of "Los Matachines de la Santa Cruz," a traditional Mexican dance group that is active in Laredo, Texas. Many of the dancers are actually descendants of former dancers who are continuing this old tradition, which has existed for more than 100 years.

The group specializes in a type of religious dance-drama called matachine that honors the Holy Cross and the Virgin Mary -- important symbols for Catholics and other faiths. The dance begins by removing the cross from its normal resting spot in a chapel and placing it on a wheeled pedestal outdoors. A drum and an accordion start to play. Dancers wearing brightly decorated velvet skirts perform in front of the cross. They carry carrizos, six-inch sections of bamboo that make a unique musical sound as they dance. The dance is part of a traditional fiesta that includes feasting, prayer and displays of textiles and folk literary arts.

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