Pioneer Day - July 24, 2019
Pioneer Day, celebrated on July 24, is an official state holiday in Utah in the United States. It commemorates the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into Utah’s Salt Lake Valley, which took place on July 24, 1847. They settled there after being forced from Nauvoo, Illinois and other locations in the eastern United States. Seeking refuge from religious persecution, the group journeyed west to found a Mormon homeland.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, informally called the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian, Christian restorationist church that is considered by its members to be the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ. To this day, the church is headquartered in Salt Lake City.
In 1847, the pioneers were determined to find an isolated region to settle. Their journey west was treacherous. As they traveled across the plains and the Rocky Mountains to Utah, many people succumbed to disease. When the survivors finally reached Salt Lake Valley, they held a solemn ceremony and sent back word that they found the "promised land." By the end of 1847, about 2,000 Mormons settled in the Salt Lake Valley.
The first Pioneer Day was celebrated in 1849 with a parade, band music, and speeches. Today, people celebrate with reenactments, parades, fireworks, rodeos, and more festivities. It is common to see people dressed up as pioneers. Like July 4, many government offices, educational institutions, and many businesses close for the day.
Pioneer Day has strong historical links to the LDS Church. Officially, though, the holiday celebrates everyone who emigrated to the Salt Lake Valley during the pioneer era, regardless of faith or nationality. A small, growing contingent of non-Mormons in Utah are celebrating July 24 as "Pie and Beer Day," an amusing play on words!
If you are interested in learning more about Mormon history, the pioneer era, or Utah, check out the titles below. If not, consider baking a nice pie to mark the occasion.