59 days, 10 hours, 50 minutes, 28 secs left until Pioneer Day on Sunday, 24th July, 2016
The state of Utah in the United States celebrates the Pioneer Day on July 24. It is on July 24 that Brigham Young, leading the Mormon Pioneers’ first group, landed on the valley of the Great Salt in the year 1847 after they were forced out of Illinois and other areas in the eastern United States. Mormon Pioneers, also known as Latter-Day Saints, celebrate the day to commemorate the birth of their new homeland for establishing earthly Zion. Utah also remembers other people like Bishop Daniel Tuttle, who opened first non-Mormon school and first public hospital in Utah in 1800s, on the important Day.
Pioneer Day, which is also known as the Days of ’47, Day of Deliverance and Covered Wagon Days, was celebrated for the first time in 1849 at a proposed temple site. Brigham Young was carried in a procession from his house to Temple Square where followers of 20 local chapters Latter-Day Saints were present. Young addressed the congregation and a Thanksgiving feast was also held for God’s blessings and a good harvest.
Since then, Pioneer Day has seen many changes -- some positive and some negative. The day has graduated from being a small scale celebration to being one of the largest in the whole of United States, with Salt Lake City being the focus of celebrations. However, Mormon Culture Region and members of the Latter-Day Saints located elsewhere also celebrate the Day to mark the founding of Mormon homeland. Some members of the Latter-Day Saints re-enact the entry of Brigham Young and Mormon Pioneers in Salt Lake valley to commemorate the day while others walk on some areas of the Mormon trail. Those members of Latter-Day Saints who are located elsewhere organize a get together and sing folk songs of Mormon to commemorate the day.
On the tenth anniversary of the Pioneer day in 1857, Mormons, who had gathered together in the mountains close to Salt Lake City to celebrate the day, were attacked by Johnston’s Army, leading to Utah War. Pioneer Day was not much celebrated when it was under ‘federal occupation’. However, they started their celebrations again after the tension had dissipated.
Tens of thousands of Mormons gathered together on the Pioneer Day in 1880 as it was also the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, the next few years were plagued by Mormons facing anti-polygamy persecutions, leading to low key celebrations on the Pioneer Day. In one such year in 1886, Temple Square in the Salt Lake City, which was generally the focus of the celebrations, was draped in black instead of colorful buntings.
However on its 50th anniversary, Pioneer Day was celebrated on a very large scale as it also marked the inauguration of the Salt Lake City temple, Utah getting statehood and anti-polygamy persecutions too came to an end.
Since then, there has been not a single year when the Pioneer day was not celebrated in a big way. On the Pioneer Day, People take part in parades, sporting events, excursions, dances, devotional programs and reunions to commemorate the founding of the Mormon homeland. Fireworks displays on the day also keep people spellbound.