Despite the heavy downpour, nearly two hundred matachines dancers from San Antonio and South Texas gathered at Mission Concepción on Sunday, Dec. 4 to recognize the Immaculate Conception Feast Day, which falls on Dec. 8.

The tradition of the matachines music, costumes, and movement in San Antonio has been alive for generations, and many local families have been dancing together throughout the years.

“Different parishes in San Antonio and outlying cities have their own groups that dance in their parish, so this is a moment for all of them to come together,” Fr. David Garcia said.

The dancing, steeped in indigenous and Spanish roots, takes place in countless cities and plazas throughout the Americas. I’ve seen it performed by people of all ages in the highlands of my own home state of Jalisco, Mexico. As we say in Spanish: la tradición sigue viva (the tradition remains alive).

La Danza de Matachines, which is celebrated on special religious feast days, evolved over hundreds of years, starting with the Moors before the Spaniards made it their own. During the Spanish conquest, it was brought to the New World by Catholic missionaries who decided to garner indigenous traditions and refocus them on a Christian message in order to ease the conversion of indigenous peoples to Catholicism. Missionaries also used other forms of music, arts, and dance in successive evangelization efforts.

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

Kathryn Boyd-Batstone is a California native and a graduate of the University of Oregon. She moved to San Antonio in December 2015 to join The Rivard Report team as photographer and videographer.