Pioneer Day: Mormons, Utahns recall a journey with concerts, parades & fireworks

NOTE: Several Pioneer Day activities take place prior to July 24, such as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s concert, which will be live streamed on mormontabernaclechoir.org at 8 p.m. on July 21.

Crowd in park outside, casual

A town dinner in Monroe, Utah, on Pioneer Day. Phot by Ken Lund, courtesy of Flickr

TUESDAY, JULY 24: Across the state of Utah and in Mormon communities worldwide, Pioneer Day marks the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into Salt Lake Valley. Parades, fireworks, rodeos, carnivals and more accompany festivals in Utah—and also in Colorado, New Mexico, Hawaii and Canada. On this date in 1847, Brigham Young and his followers ended a thousand-mile search for a permanent settlement and an escape from religious persecution. Many voyagers didn’t survive the difficult journey, and on Pioneer Day, Utahns pay homage to all pioneers—Mormon or not. Across Utah, many governmental offices and places of business are closed for the state holiday.

Portions of the Mormon Trail are reenacted each year in Utah, and an elaborate Days of ’47 festival envelops the entire city of Salt Lake each July. If you’re traveling through Utah at this time of year, you’re in for a treat!

FROM NAUVOO, ILLINOIS TO SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

In the final months before their journey West, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could feel the growing tension. They were no longer welcome in Nauvoo, Illinois, and when their founder—prophet Joseph Smith—was murdered on June 27, 1844, the need to leave became urgent. The Mormons left their settlement in Nauvoo for a new homeland, and after a treacherous journey, the surviving pilgrims crossed into Salt Lake City on July 24. (Find resources, historical photographs and more with links from the state of Utah.) The first statewide Pioneer Day celebration was held a decade later, in 1857, and July 24 remains a state holiday in Utah to this day.

Black-and-white photo of pioneers in covered wagons

Mormon pioneers, July 1847. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A PIONEER-ERA CELEBRATION

Many participants reenact a portion of the Mormon trail each year near July 24, trekking several miles to make the grand entrance into Salt Lake City by handcart.

For Utahns, the Days of ’47 festival commemorates the entire region’s culture and history—not just those of the Mormon pioneers. (The pioneer era is considered to have ended in 1869 with the arrival of the transcontinental railroad.) Significant settlers in Utah’s pioneer history are celebrated, an Intertribal Powwow lights up Liberty Park in Salt Lake City and parades, fireworks and rodeos fill the streets and grounds of Salt Lake in the days surrounding July 24.

THE MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR EMBRACES BROADWAY

The height of Mormon activities is the grand performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which this year will feature a former star of “Glee” and a Broadway performer: Matthew Morrison and Laura Michelle Kelly, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Morrison and Kelly were co-stars in the Broadway production of “Finding Neverland,” and they will be performing in Broadway-themed Pioneer Day concerts July 20 and 21. In addition, Morrison and Kelly will appear on the July 22 broadcast of “Music and the Spoken Word.”

Watch online: The concert will be live streamed on mormontabernaclechoir.org at 8 p.m. on July 21. On-demand videos of the concert in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German will be available by July 30 on motab.org/pioneerday.

This year, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s Pioneer Day performances will also include an appearance by Oscar Hammerstein III, grandson of the lyricist and music theater producer, who will narrate a portion of the program.

Ready for some pioneer fun at home? Try out these creative pioneer crafts for kids, courtesy of the Crafty Crow.

Pioneer Day: Mormons celebrate Brigham Young and Salt Lake City

Hundreds of members of Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform in Mormon Temple

Broadway’s former “Cinderella” star performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for this year’s Pioneer Day concerts. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

FRIDAY, JULY 24: Across the state of Utah and in Mormon communities worldwide, Pioneer Day marks the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into Salt Lake Valley. Parades, fireworks, rodeos, carnivals and more accompany festivals in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Hawaii and Canada. On this date in 1847, Brigham Young and his followers ended a thousand-mile search for a permanent settlement and an escape from religious persecution. (Wikipedia has details.) Many voyagers didn’t survive the difficult journey, and on Pioneer Day, Utahns pay homage to all pioneers—Mormon or not. Across Utah, many governmental offices and places of business are closed for the state holiday.

Did you know? Some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reenact the entrance of pioneers into Salt Lake Valley, by handcart, each Pioneer Day. Annually, Pioneer Days draws approximately 250,000 people.

This year, activities for Pioneer Day in Salt Lake City began a week before July 24, brimming with live music, pioneer heritage activities, pancake breakfasts and more. (Read more in the Salt Lake Tribune.) For Ogden Pioneer Days, Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke during the annual devotional, referencing the Sermon on the Mount when he spoke of the need for reconciliation, forgiveness and a culture of community. (Deseret News has the story.) In contrast to Mormon-centered activities, some bars and restaurants are gearing up for “Pie ‘n’ Beer Day,” a homophonic allusion to Pioneer Day that is based in Utah. Non-Mormons who reported feeling out of place during the Pioneer Day activities say that they now have a place to go on July 24. (New York Times reported.)

NEWS: TEMPLE OPEN FOR TOURS, A NEW ELDER & CINDERELLA SINGING

Following three years of construction on a 34,000-square-foot building, Mormonism’s newest temple, will be open for tours to non-Mormons in Indiana through August 8. During the past decade, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has only opened three or four temples worldwide each year, reaching a total of 147. Despite reports that the religion’s numbers are declining, officials expect that the temple in Indiana will host 75,000 visitors before closing its doors to non-Mormons, at which time it will serve approximately 30,000 Mormons in the state. (Read more from USA Today, Fox News and Indianapolis Monthly.)

With the death of 90-year old Boyd Packer, it has been reported that Russell Nelson will take over the position of president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second-highest governing body of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In a statement, the Church said that the apostles have “heavy administrative responsibilities as they oversee the orderly progress and development of the global church.”

Broadway star Laura Osnes, best known for her role as “Cinderella,” joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra for its Pioneer Day concert July 17 and 18. (Watch a video of the performance here.) Prior to the performances, Osnes—nominated for a Tony Award and recipient of several other awards—described her excitement in performing with such a renowned and enormous group. (Read more here.)

Interfaith Calendar: Religious and Cultural Observances 2022

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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A Global Source for More than a Decade

Holidays & Festivals expert Stephanie Fenton is internationally known for her reporting on major holidays, festivals and milestones that shape community life around the world. There are many other calendars that claim to provide this information at the click of a link or an app, but Stephanie is the leading journalist focused on actively reporting about these milestones. That’s important, because dates and times and even the names of these observances vary—as well as the meaning of these observances in various countries and cultures. In her columns, Stephanie explains the fascinating stories behind these events, advises readers on newsy updates—and always provides an array of links to learn more about everything from the history of the holiday to DIY holiday-related crafts and tasty traditional recipes.

It’s simple to find these columns. Just go to the master year-long calendar via InterfaithHolidays.com

Got a question? Perhaps you’re questioning one of the listed dates—or you wish we would list an observance that particularly interests you. Please, contact us at [email protected]

Holidays and Festivals January 2022

Black-and-white photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in suit with microphones, speaking outdoorsJANUARY is named for Janus, the Roman god associated with beginnings and transitions. The many month-long observances in various parts of the world include a special focus on Alzheimer’s disease (Canada) and on combatting human trafficking and slavery (U.S.). Over the past two decades in the U.S., January also has been designated National Mentoring Month.

1—Mary, Mother of God (Catholic Christian)

1—Feast of St. Basil (Orthodox Christian)

5—Twelfth Night (Christian)

6—Epiphany (Christian) (Note: Observed in some denominations on the nearest Sunday, January 2, in 2022.)

6—Theophany (Feast of the Epiphany) (Orthodox Christian)

6—Dia de los Reyes (Three Kings Day) (Christian)

7—Feast of the Nativity (Orthodox Christian, Julian calendar)

9—Baptism of the Lord (Christian)

9—Birthday of Guru Gobindh Singh (Sikh)

10—Bodhi Day (Rohatsu) (Buddhism)

13—Maghi Lohri (Sikh)

14—Makar Sankranti / Pongal (Hindu)

16—World Religion Day (Baha’i)

16—Sundown, Tu BiShvat (Jewish)

17—Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (U.S.)

18—Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins (Christian)

19—Timkat (Ethiopian Orthodox Christian)

21—Chinese New Year

25—Conversion of St. Paul (Christian)

27—International Holocaust Remembrance Day

30—New Year (Buddhist, Mahayana)

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Holidays and Festivals February 2022

Black-and-white stamp of Four Immortal Chaplains

This U.S. postage stamp was issued in honor of the Four Immortal Chaplains in 1948.

FEBRUARY is another echo of ancient Rome, where februum meant “purification.” Among February’s month-long observances are Library Lovers Month and Black History Month in Canada and the U.S. (October in the UK).

1—Feast of St. Brighid of Kildare (Celtic Christian)

2—Candlemas (Presentation of Christ in the Temple) (Christian)

2—Imbolc (Lughnassadh) (Northern/Southern hemisphere) (Wicca, pagan)

2—Groundhog Day

3—Four Chaplains Day (Interfaith) Sunday observances may be on February 6, 2022.

5—Vasant Panchami (Hindu)

11—Our Lady of Lourdes (Catholic Christian)

13—Triodion begins (Orthodox Christian)

14—St. Valentine’s Day (Christian, international holiday)

15—Parinirvana Day (Nirvana Day) (Buddhist, Jain)

16—Magha Puja Day / Sangha Day (Buddhist)

21—Presidents’ Day (U.S.)

25—Ayyam-i-Ha (Intercalary Days) begins (Baha’i)

27—Meatfare Sunday (Judgment Sunday) (Orthodox Christian)

28—Sundown, Lailat al Miraj (Isra Mi’raj) (Islam)

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Holidays and Festivals March 2022

St. Patrick stained glass

A stained-glass representation of St. Patrick.

MARCH‘s name recalls Mars, yet another Roman deity. This year, the moveable season of Lent begins in March for the majority of Christians around the world. Among March’s month-long observances are National Social Work Month and Women’s History Month, which includes International Women’s Day.

1—St. David of Wales (Christian)

1—Maha Shivaratri (Hindu)

1—Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) (Christian)

2—Ash Wednesday / Lent begins (Christian)

2—Nineteen-Day Fast begins (Baha’i)

6—Cheesefare Sunday (Forgiveness Sunday) (Orthodox Christian)

7—Clean Monday / Great Lent begins (Orthodox Christian)

13—Birthday of L. Ron Hubbard (Scientology)

13—Feast of Orthodoxy / Sunday of Orthodoxy / Orthodox Sunday (Orthodox Christian)

13—Daylight Saving Time begins

16—Fast of Esther (Jewish)

16—Sundown, Purim (Jewish)

17—St. Patrick’s Day (Christian, international holiday)

17—Holika Dahan (Hindu)

18—Hola Mohalla (Sikh)

18—Holi (Hindu)

18—Sundown, Lailat al Bara’ah (Mid-Sha’ban) (Islam)

19—St. Joseph’s Day (Christian)

20—Vernal (spring) equinox (Northern Hemisphere)

20—Ostara (Mabon) (Wicca, pagan) (Northern/Southern hemisphere)

21—Naw-Ruz (Baha’i)

21—International Day of Nowruz, Nowruz (Zoroastrian)

25—Feast of the Annunciation (Christian)

27—Mothering Sunday (UK)

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Holidays and Festivals April 2022

Ramadan begins in April in 2022.

APRIL‘s origin is debated by scholars but its name may reflect aperire, which means “to open.” Among April’s month-long observances are Arab American Heritage Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

2—Ugadi / Gudi Padwa (Hindu)

2—Sundown, Ramadan begins (Islam)

10—Rama Navami (Hindu)

(Note: Some Hindus begin reading the Ramayana nine days prior to the start of Rama Navami)

10—Palm Sunday (Christian)

10—Swaminarayan Jayanti (Hindu)

14—Baisakhi (Vaisakhi) (Sikh)

14—Maundy Thursday (Christian)

14—Mahavir Jayanti (Jain)

15—Lord’s Evening Meal (Jehovah’s Witness Christian)

15—Good Friday (Christian)

15—Fast of the Firstborn (Jewish)

Passover and Easter both occur in April 2022.

15—Sundown, Pesach (Passover) begins (Jewish)

16—Hanuman Jayanti (Hindu)

16—New Year (Buddhist, Theravada)

16—Black (Holy) Saturday (Christian)

16—Lazarus Saturday (Orthodox Christian)

17—Easter Sunday (Christian)

17—Palm Sunday (Orthodox Christian)

18—Easter Monday (Christian)

21—First Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)

22—Earth Day

22—Holy Friday (Orthodox Christian)

23—Holy Saturday (Orthodox Christian)

24—Great and Holy Pascha (Easter) (Orthodox Christian)

27—Sundown, Yom HaShoah (Jewish)

28—Sundown, Lailat al-Qadr (27th night of Ramadan) (Islam)

29—Ninth Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)

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Holidays and Festivals May 2022

Words for Mother's Day on yellow with flowersMAY‘s name also comes from an ancient deity, in this case associated with fertility. Among May’s month-long observances are special devotions to Mary in Catholic communities, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Jewish American Heritage Month and Military Appreciation Month.

1—Beltane (Samhain) (Wicca, pagan) (Northern/Southern hemisphere)

1 or 2—Sundown, Eid al-Fitr (Ramadan ends) (Islam)

2—Twelfth Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)

3—Akshaya Tritiya (Hindu, Jain)

3—Sundown, Yom HaZikaron (Jewish)

4—Sundown, Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Jewish)

5—Cinco de Mayo

5—National Day of Prayer (U.S.)

6—Vesak (Buddha Day) (Buddhist) (Note: Observance dates vary)

8—Mother’s Day (U.S.)

12—Trinity Sunday (Christian)

18—Sundown, Lag B’Omer (Jewish)

24—Declaration of the Bab (Baha’i)

26—Ascension of the Lord (Ascension of Jesus) (Christian)

(Note: Observed in some denominations on nearest Sunday, May 29, in 2022)

29—Ascension of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i)

30—Memorial Day (U.S.)

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Holidays and Festivals June 2022

JUNE brings a wideDad tie words range of festivals and summer-themed observances in communities around the Northern Hemisphere. In the U.S., Pride Month commemorates the Stonewall Riots in June 1969 and the birth of the gay-rights movement.

2—Holy Ascension / Feast of the Ascension (Orthodox Christian)

3—Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib (Sikh)

4—Sundown, Shavuot (Jewish)

5—Pentecost (Christian)

6—Whit Monday (Christian)

9—St. Columba of Iona (Christian)

12—Trinity Sunday (Christian)

12—Pentecost (Orthodox Christian)

14—Flag Day (U.S.)

16—Corpus Christi (Catholic Christian)

(Note: Observed in some denominations on nearest Sunday, June 19, in 2022)

19—New Church Day (Swedenborgian Christian)

19—Juneteenth

19—Father’s Day (U.S.)

19—The Sunday of All Saints (Orthodox Christian)

21—Summer solstice (Northern Hemisphere)

21—Litha (Yule) (Wicca, pagan) (Northern/Southern hemisphere); Midsummer

23/24—St. John the Baptist (Christian)

(Note: In the Roman Catholic church, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist is transferred from June 24 to June 23 in 2022, as June 24 is observed as the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.)

24—Sacred Heart of Jesus (Catholic Christian)

29—Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (Christian)

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Holidays and Festivals July 2022

JULY‘s name honors Julius Caesar, who was born in this month. More summer-time festivals are sprinkled around the Northern Hemisphere, including National Hog Dog Month and National Ice Cream Month in the U.S. That’s appropriate since this is the month of American Independence Day.

4—Independence Day (U.S.)

7—Sundown, Hajj begins (Islam)

8—Sundown, Waqf al Arafa (Day of Arafat) (Islam)

9—Sundown, Eid al-Adha (Islam)

10—Martyrdom of the Bab (Baha’i)

13—Asalha Puja Day (Dharma Day) (Buddhist)

15—Obon (Ullambana) (Buddhist) Note: This observance is Shichigatsu Bon; Hachigatsu Bon / Kyu Bon, or “Old Bon,” commences in August.

16—Fast of Tammuz 17; The Three Weeks begins (Jewish)

23—Birthday of Haile Selassie (Rastafari)

24—Pioneer Day (Mormon)

29—Sundown, Hijri (New Year) (Islam)

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Holidays and Festivals August 2022

Grains, breads and rolls on table

Lughnasadh and Lammas have long been a first harvest festival, giving thanks for grains and baking with the freshly-sown crops. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

AUGUST was named after another Roman emperor, Augustus. Among the month-long observances are Happiness Happens (no kidding!) and National Immunization Awareness Month, which is promoted by the CDC in the U.S.

1—Lammas (Christian)

1—Lughnasadh (Imbolc) (Wicca, pagan) (Northern/Southern hemisphere)

6—Feast of the Transfiguration, Transfiguration of Our Lord (Catholic Christian, Anglican Christian, Orthodox Christian)

6—Sundown, Tisha B’Av (Jewish)

7—Sundown, Ashura (Islam)

11—Raksha Bandhan (Hindu)

11—Sundown, Tu B’Av (Jewish)

13—Obon (Ullambana) (Buddhist) (See note in July Obon entry)

14—Dormition Fast (Orthodox Christian)

15—Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Catholic Christian, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican Communion)

15—Dormition of the Theotokos (Orthodox Christian)

18—Krishna Janmashtami (Hindu)

24—Paryushan Parvarambha begins (Jain)

31—Ganesh Chaturthi (Hindu)

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Holidays and Festivals September 2022

Honey and biscuits

Honey is eaten with various foods on Rosh Hashanah. Photo courtesy of Pixnio

SEPTEMBER‘s name is a remnant of the fact that Romans once had 10 months and this was the seventh, hence “sept.” A whole series of cancer-awareness observances have been clustered in September, including special efforts to highlight childhood cancers, gynecologic cancers, leukemia, lymphoma, ovarian cancer and thyroid cancer.

1—Ecclesiastical New Year (Orthodox Christian)

1—Samvatsari Parva begins (Jain)

5—Labor Day (U.S.)

8—Nativity of the Virgin Mary/Theotokos (Christian)

11—Patriot Day (U.S.)

11—Enkutatasch (Ethiopian New Year) (Rastafari, Ethiopian Orthodox)

21—Mabon (Imbolc) (Wicca, pagan) (Northern/Southern hemisphere)

22—Autumnal (fall) equinox (Northern Hemisphere)

25—Sundown, Rosh Hashanah (Jewish)

26—Navaratri (Hindu)

27—Meskel (Ethiopian Eritrean Orthodox Christian)

29—Michael and All Angels (Christian)

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Holidays and Festivals October 2022

Girl poses with candle-lit bowls of oil

A girl with diya lamps lit for Diwali. Photo by Partha Sarathi Sahana, courtesy of Flickr

OCTOBER retains its old reference to this being the eighth month in the old Roman system, thus “oct.” One of the biggest cancer-awareness campaigns—Breast Cancer Awareness Month—takes place each October. This also is National Bullying Prevention Month.

4—St. Francis Day (Blessing of the Animals) (Catholic Christian)

4—Sundown, Yom Kippur (Jewish)

5—Daesara, Dussehra (Hindu)

7—Sundown, Mawlid an-Nabi (Islam)

9—Sundown, Sukkot (Jewish)

10—Indigenous Peoples Day

10—Columbus Day (U.S.)

10—Thanksgiving (Canada)

16—Sundown, Shemini Atzeret (Jewish)

17—Sundown, Simchat Torah (Jewish)

18—St. Luke, Apostle and Evangelist (Christian)

24—Diwali (Deepavali) (Hindu, Jain, Sikh)

26—Birth of the Bab (Baha’i)

27—Birth of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i)

31—Reformation Day (Protestant Christian)

31—All Hallows Eve (Christian)

31—Samhain (Wicca, pagan)

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Holidays and Festivals November 2022

Assortment of fake pumpkins and autumn vegetables, with straw turkeyNOVEMBER was named for novem or “ninth,” continuing the ancient Roman custom of numbering months. This is Native American History Month, We’ve got books: Dancing My Dream as well as The Flavors of Faith, among others. November also is National Family Caregivers Month and National Hospice Month.

1—All Saints (Christian)

2—All Souls’ Day (Catholic Christian)

6—Daylight Saving Time ends

11—Veterans Day (U.S.)

15—Nativity Fast begins (Orthodox Christian)

20—Christ the King (Christian)

24—Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib (Sikh)

26—Day of the Covenant (Baha’i)

24—Thanksgiving (U.S.)

27—First Sunday of Advent (Advent begins) (Christian)

28—Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha (Baha’i)

30—St. Andrew’s Day (Christian)

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Holidays and Festivals December 2022

Man with red bishop's hat and white beard waves with white gloved hand

Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands.

DECEMBER, with dec for “ten,” wraps up the old Roman system of numbering months.

6—St. Nicholas Day (Christian)

7—Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (U.S.)

8—Immaculate Conception of Mary (Catholic Christian)

12—Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Hispanic Catholic Christian) Note: In the Roman Catholic church, this feast is omitted in 2022 due to its occurrence on the third Sunday of Advent. However, Our Lady of Guadalupe is permitted to be honored in the Homily, in prayers and hymns, and in a Mass before or after Dec. 12.

16—Posadas Navidenas begins (Hispanic Christian)

18—Sundown, Hanukkah (Chanukah) begins (Jewish)

21—Yule (Christian, Wicca, pagan)

21—Winter solstice (Northern Hemisphere)

25—Christmas (Christian)

25—Feast of the Nativity (Orthodox Christian)

26—Kwanzaa begins

26—Feast of St. Stephen (Christian)

28—Holy Innocents (Christian)

30—Feast of the Holy Family (Catholic Christian)

31—Watch Night (Christian)

 

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NOTE TO READERS

We continue to update this list, month by month. As you read the list, you may discover we have missed a fascinating observance or detail. If so, please email us at [email protected].

Pioneer Day: Utahns join Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in celebration

PIONEER DAY is a longstanding tradition. This photo was taken about 1912 of a Pioneer Day re-enactment of the 1847 arrival by wagon train. Later, someone typed a caption on the front of the card. The image now is part of the Library of Congress archives, available for public use.

PIONEER DAY is a longstanding tradition. This photo was taken about 1912 of a Pioneer Day re-enactment of the 1847 arrival by wagon train. Later, someone typed a caption on the front of the card. The image now is part of the Library of Congress archives, available for public use.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 24: Don your bonnet and lace up your boots—it’s Pioneer Day in Utah, and a celebration for Mormons nationwide. On this date in 1847, Mormon pioneers settled into the Salt Lake Valley to escape religious persecution. After being forced from their home in Nauvoo, Illinois, the pilgrims embarked on a thousand-mile journey to form a new settlement. Portions of the Mormon Trail are reenacted each year in Utah, and an elaborate Days of ’47 festival envelops the entire city of Salt Lake each July. (Check out photos here.) If you’re traveling through Utah at this time of year, you’re in for a treat!

In the final months before their journey West, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could feel the growing tension. They were no longer welcome in Nauvoo, Illinois, and when their founder—prophet Joseph Smith—was murdered on June 27, 1844, something had to be done. The Mormons left their settlement in Nauvoo for a new homeland, and after a treacherous journey, the surviving pilgrims crossed into Salt Lake City on July 24. (Find resources, historical photographs and more with links from the state of Utah.) The first statewide Pioneer Day celebration was held a decade later, in 1857, and July 24 remains a state holiday in Utah to this day.

A PIONEER ERA CELEBRATION:
FROM MORMONS TO AN INTERTRIBAL POWWOW

Old man with white beard in pink shirt with suspenders and white cowboy hat

Many participants reenact a portion of the Mormon trail each year near July 24, trekking several miles to make the grand entrance into Salt Lake City by handcart. Photo courtesy of Flickr.

For Utahns, the Days of ’47 festival commemorates the entire region’s culture and history—not just those of the Mormon pioneers. (The pioneer era is considered to have ended in 1869 with the arrival of the transcontinental railroad.) Significant settlers in Utah’s pioneer history are celebrated, an Intertribal Powwow lights up Liberty Park in Salt Lake City and parades, fireworks and rodeos fill the streets and grounds of Salt Lake in the days surrounding July 24.

THE DAYS OF ’47

The height of Mormon activities is the grand performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which this year was held last Saturday and whose venue allowed 21,000 attendees to hear featured hip-hop violinist Lindsey Stirling and pop-opera tenor Nathan Pacheco, along with the famed choir. (The Salt Lake Tribune had the story.) Organizers say they “consciously chose these two artists to appeal to a younger generation, and younger people responded eagerly. Our ticket supply disappeared before our eyes.”

Today, families that camped out along the parade route last night can awaken to the parade events. (The Deseret News reports.) The Days of ’47 Youth Parade—the largest youth parade in the country—kicked off the Days of ’47 festivities on July 20, with more than 5,000 participants: marching bands, clowns, Boy Scouts of America and wards and stakes from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Ready for some pioneer fun at home? Try out these creative pioneer crafts for kids, courtesy of the Crafty Crow.

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(Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering spirituality, religion, interfaith and cross-cultural issues.)