I’m surprised that the new county government moved the Mora Fiestas to July 20-22 this year.
Ever since I can remember the people in the Mora Valley have celebrated the feast days of St. James on July 25 and St. Ann on July 26.
It has been the tradition throughout the years to ride on horseback on St. James Day for the men, and horseback for the women on July 26, St. Ann’s day. I was always told since childhood that the reason for this was that St. James in his epistle talks about what Christianity is all about.
It is said that he traveled about the countryside on horseback and would use his horse as an example to teach. In Chapter 3, Verse 3, he says “we put bits in the horse’s mouth that they may obey us, and turn about their whole body. Ships are also turned with a small helm, so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth. The tongue is a fire that defiles the whole body. For every kind of beast and bird and serpents is tamed by men. But the tongue can no man tame. We go to church and praise God, then with the same mouth we curse our neighbors which are made in the image of our creator.”
The feast of St. Ann was celebrated because, according to legend, St. Ann gave Mary, the mother of Jesus, the donkey to travel to Bethlehem where Jesus was born. Later, when Joseph was warned in a dream to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt a Roman soldier followed the tracks and caught up with them. The donkey that Mary rode warned Joseph and when the Roman soldier looked inside Mary’s cloak baby Jesus had turned into a bunch of flowers.
So every year, on July 25 and 26, Mora Valley residents would ride horses in honor of St. James and St. Ann, and the horse and the donkey.