The Mora Fiestas ... are usually held on July 25 and 26, which is interesting because as long as I can remember all the men ride horseback on July 25, which is the day of St. James, and the women ride horseback on the 26th, St. Ann’s day.
I asked great grandma about this tradition, and she told me that in 1904 there was a great flood in Mora and the people escaped in the big courthouse that looked like a castle. She said that after the flood the local priest had told the people it was a warning to be more prayerful. She said that he kept reminding people that the two most important commandments are to love God with your whole being, and the second to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
She said that because our tongue is our biggest enemy, someone came up with the idea that if they took heed of the words of St. James, Chapter 3, 1-18, where St. James advises the people that: We put a bit into the mouth of a horse to make it obey us, and it will go wherever we want, but no one has been able to control the tongue. It is evil and uncontrollable, full of poison. We give praise to our creator and with the same tongue curse our neighbor. So, as a reminder of the words of St. James, who is said to have rode a horse throughout the countryside, to preach, heal the sick and give food to the needy, they started riding horses on that day.
St. Ann, she said, is another story. Joseph and Mary were poor, simple people. They traveled by goat everywhere they went, when it was time to go to Bethlehem, St. Ann the mother of our blessed mother Mary, gave Mary a donkey to ride, since she was with a child and the journey was long. So in memory of St. Ann’s good act, the women ride horses on the 26th, which is St. Ann’s birthday. She said these traditions have been followed since the Spaniards came to America.