Pioneer Day: A Mormon Celebration of Ancestry

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 - 12:42 pm

Pioneer Day: A Mormon Celebration of Ancestry

Dresses on the Mormon TrailTwo Mormon girls wash their dresses in Yellow Creek after 8 hours on the Mormon Trail pulling a handcart over the high plains of Wyoming into Utah. Photo by Mike Nelson/AFP/Getty Images
July 24 is an official holiday in Utah. Many Mormons celebrate Pioneer Day with reenactments of the Mormon pioneers difficult trek, flowing parades, family barbeques, and late-night fireworks. Also known as Covered Wagon Days and the Days of ’47, Mormons commemorate the arrival of Brigham Young and his followers to the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847 after fleeing persecution at Nauvoo in Illinois and other settlements.
The Mormon scholar Joanna Brooks describes celebrating Pioneer Day as a young girl by donning a “pioneer calico bonnet and skirt handmade by my mother every July 24 to celebrate my great-great-grandmother and other ancestors who had come from as far away as England to build an American Zion in Utah and Idaho.”
flyin' to zionFlyin’ to Zion blimp float in a local parade celebrating Pioneer Day. (Photo by Martijn van Exel/Flickr, cc by-nd 2.0)
Pioneer Day 4(Photo by Arby Reed/Flickr)
Pioneer Day parade in UtahPhoto by Edgar Zuniga Jr./Flickr, cc by-nd 2.0
Coffins for SalePhoto by Arby Reed/Flickr, cc by-nd 2.0)
Pulling the handcartRonda Robertson from Farmington, Utah pulls a handcart through The Needles area of southwestern Wyoming as a vivid reminder of the hardship endured by early Mormon pioneers. (Photo by Mike Nelson/AFP/Getty Images)
Mormon youth crossing Sweetwater RiverCrossing the swiftly moving Sweetwater River, Mormon youth grip a rope to keep them from being swept away in the current towards the end of their 10-mile trek. (Photo by Jill P. Mott/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)
St. George TempleThe first temple built by the LDS church after their arrival in Utah is the St. George Temple.. (Photo by J Brew/Flickr, cc by-sa 2.0)
Fire works.Fireworks close the celebrations on Pioneer Day.
Top of the hillThe University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Pioneer Day. (Photo by Sam Klein/Flick, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

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