One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In Spain and Spanish-speaking countries: a wooden rattle used instead of church bells on Good Friday, and often at other celebrations.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in New Yorker. From Spanish matraca type of wooden rattle from colloquial Arabic maṭraqa hammer, hammer for making noise (in literary Arabic miṭraqa hammer) from ṭaraqa to knock, to hammer.
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