Pioneer Day, celebrated on July 24 every year, is a homage to the arrival of Mormon Pioneers in the state of Utah. Led by Brigham Young, the Mormon pioneers settled in Utah in 1847 after days of religious persecution and traveling nonstop. Their prophet, Joseph Smith, had been murdered a few years earlier by a mob. Fearing for their lives and hoping to find a more peaceful place to settle, most Mormons fled Illinois. Today, the Mormon community honors the day by holding rallies, parades, and fun contests in their hometown of Salt Lake City. Pioneer Day is also celebrated by many as a patriotic day. Pioneers, particularly Mormon pioneers, have worked hard to establish a name for themselves and their community in many states of America.
History of Pioneer Day
The first Pioneer Day is marked by the entry of Brigham Young and his followers into the state of Utah. Brigham Young was an American politician and religious leader. He was the second president of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) and was the first city governor of Utah. Before Young, Joseph Smith was the president, and he was believed to be a prophet. However, Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were persecuted and jailed for their faith. An angry mob, in 1844, broke into their prison cell, killing the brothers. Following their prophet’s death, LDS members called an urgent meeting, trying to decide who should lead the church now. Young competed against Sidney Rigdon for the role, but the latter lost. Rigdon failed to accept his defeat, and shortly afterward he separated to form his own sect.
Meanwhile, Young took charge and led the LDS. The church continued facing persecution and discrimination from the community at large. Finally, in 1847, Young decided to leave Illinois with a group of followers. After several exhausting days of traveling the group arrived in the state of Utah. They set camp and founded Salt Lake City. Soon, the Mormon community there grew, with many becoming farmers of turnips and potatoes, and building a dam. The ‘Promised Land’ had been found and made into a home where all Mormons lived in harmony and peace. Utah holds the highest Mormon population in the country, followed by states like Nevada, Arizona, and Idaho. Since it’s an official religious holiday for the community, many Mormons close their businesses for the day, either partially or completely. Schools and universities also close for the day. In their free time, the community comes out to watch and take part in festivities like parades, cookouts, pageants, and firework displays. Some people go on the ‘Mormon trail’ to reenact the scene of Young and his followers entering Utah.
Pioneer Day timeline
Prophet Joseph Smith is killed by an angry mob while he is held captive in a prison cell.
Brigham Young, the second president of LDS, arrives in Utah along with his followers.
Mormons commemorate the occasion of arriving in Utah for the first time in a place near the future Mormon Church.
The Utah territory is finally approved and recognized as a state, making it the 45th state of the U.S.
Pioneer Day FAQs
What day is Pioneer Day?
Pioneer Day is celebrated on July 24 every year.
Is Pioneer Day a Mormon holiday?
Pioneer Day is celebrated as an official religious holiday in the Mormon community. To honor the day, people take the day off to watch firework displays and rodeos or even take a walk on the Mormon Trail.
When did Pioneer Day become a holiday?
Pioneer Day became a holiday in 1849, which was two years after Young arrived in Utah. At the time, it was celebrated with speeches, music, and a parade.
How To Observe Pioneer Day
Take part in the celebrations
What better way to celebrate Pioneer Day than by actually taking part in them? Find Pioneer Day events happening near you, and if there aren’t any, you can plan a trip to Utah to see the authentic celebrations in full swing.
Go to a Mormon church
Immerse yourself in the Mormon world for a day by visiting a church. You will come to learn more about Mormon history as well as the people associated with it. Moreover, visiting a church will allow you to interact with Mormons to learn more about them and their religion.
A glance at Mormon history will reveal the many struggles the community has gone through over the years. Apart from this, you will also come to learn about their numerous victories and pioneering ideas that have shaped America into the great country it is today.
5 Facts About Mormons That Will Blow Your Mind
LDS gives importance to family/gender roles
Many Mormons believe that having a healthy family life with males/females adhering to traditional gender roles leads to a happy life in the long run.
It’s one of the most conservative communities
The Mormon community is one of the most conservative religious communities in the U.S.A., with two-thirds opposing things like LGBTQ+ and abortion.
Mormons are young and less diverse
The Mormon community is generally younger and less diverse than the other religious communities in the country.
Fastest growing religion in America
There are six million Mormons in America, with the LDS Church recording at least one million new entrants every three years.
Mormon law enforcement recruiting programs
The FBI and CIA have special programs in place to recruit Mormons given the apparent incorruptibility of their morals.
Why We Love Pioneer Day
It’s a celebration of religious freedom
Everyone has the right to practice their religion without facing persecution for their beliefs. Mormons are no different. They deserve to live peacefully, practicing and living by their faith however they desire. Any attack on Mormons and their faith is an attack on the freedom of expression everywhere else too.
It’s a celebration of pioneers
Through the tumble and toil, many great things are born, and Pioneer Day is no different. Whilst it is essentially a religious holiday, people also honor it with patriotic spirit. Many pioneers, Mormons or not, have made a name for themselves as well as the country. Some famous Mormons include David Archuleta, Paul Walker, and Christina Aguilera.
It’s a celebration of hope
Facing relentless persecution and wandering for days on end, Brigham Young and his followers finally arrived in Utah. They started a new life not only for themselves but for the future generations of Mormons. Had they given up on hope, nobody would have been celebrating Pioneer Day in the first place.
Pioneer Day dates