There is a cultural aspect reflected in those who carry the surname Matracia. This has to do with the Jewish population of Sicily which was forced to convert to Catholicism or leave the island kingdom in 1492 by order of King Ferdinand of Aragon, the latter of whom was also the King of Sicily. The following information is found on page 120 of The Former Jews of this Kingdom by Nadia Zeldes:
Translation of the entry in the Dizionario Onomastico della Sicilia
Citing the sources PA, CL, ME, and CT one finds the Sicilian surname Matrascia.
Citing the sources PA, AG, and CL one finds the surname spelled Matraxìa.
Citing source EN from Calascibetta, the same name is spelled Matraxhìa.
All of these are derived from the Greek word Matrachrìas meaning Mattress-Maker.
This Greek term Matrachrìas (mattress-maker) is formed from the Greek word Màtrachros, Mattress, from which comes the Bovese* term for Mattress: Màtrakho, the latter of which points directly to the Arabic term Matrakh, meaning ‘the place on which it is thrown’. This information is found in AMS pp. 288-290 regarding the term Matarazzo.
It suffices to say that the ‘ias’ ending in Matrachrìas is characteristic for the names of professions written in Greek.
Citing Barberi I 173 V, an early example of the surname is found as Petrus e Iacobus de Matrachia.
The name also appears as Matracia and Matraia.
* Referring to the town of Bova in Calabria.
Palermo Synagogue Renewed
On Jan. 12, 2017 a Thursday, the Jewish community of Palermo, Sicily, will become owners of part of a church and monastery complex—a gift from the Roman Catholic Church—that will soon house its synagogue and heritage center. The complex, itself located atop the ruins of a medieval synagogue (the Great Synagogue of Palermo), will undergo renovations to create these Jewish spaces, and the Catholic Church will be financing the project. The donation creates what is essentially the first synagogue in Palermo in over 500 years—since the Jews were expelled from Sicily in 1493.
Modifications in the Spelling of the Matracia Family Name
In Italian, the spelling MATRASCIA reflects the current pronunciation of the name. It is also spelled in the older Italian style as MATRAXIA. In Sicilian, as in other Latin languages still spoken in modern-day Italy, the ci combination is pronounced sci. For example Cinque Terra is pronounced Scinque Terra.
The modification to MATACIA in America is only found within the Termini families, but not all of them. The progenitor of the Matracia family in Boston MA was Agostino Matracia born in 1831, nine years before Ignazio and the brothers Ignazio, Paolo, and Lorenzo Matracia of the Baltimore/Milwaukee/Lancaster sector. Both families spelled the family name Matacia, yet neither of these two groups is directly related. But why the modification?
Perhaps this modification was done to make it easier to pronounce the name. Surviving documents which bear Ignazio Matracia’s surname include the spellings: Matracia, Matacia, and Matascia. The later version, in Italian, is important because it preserves the Sicilian pronunciation, whereby the notated ‘cia’ ending is to be pronounced either ‘sha’ or shee-a. The Charlottesville VA Matacia Family (descended from Ignazio’s eldest son, Agostino Matacia) pronounces its surname Muh-TY-sha (Southern style), whereas Jamie Matacia’s Family, descended from Agostino’s youngest brother Joseph, pronounces it Ma-da-SHEE-a.
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