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Pioneer Day

Pioneer Day 2017 and 2018

Pioneer Day is a state holiday in Utah every 24 July to commemorate the entry of Brigham Young and the Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. In 2017, Pioneer Day falls on a Monday.

YearDateDayHolidayStates
201724 JulMonPioneer DayUT
201824 JulTuePioneer DayUT

Pioneer Day has great significance for the residents of Utah and especially for members of the Mormon faith. Other regions in surrounding states that were originally founded by Mormon settlers, also observe Pioneer Day, though it is only an official state holiday in Utah.

The holiday commemorates the expedition and entry that was led by Brigham Young after the eviction of the Mormon saints from Nauvoo, Illinois. After the murder of their religious founder, Joseph Smith in June, 1844, the Mormons were seeking an isolated place to practice their religion and be free from religious persecution.

Then, they headed towards the wild West, heading for the Rocky Mountains, and away from the eastern states that were forcing them out. They came to the Utah territory with significantly less people than their journey had started with. The pioneers faced tragic and unimaginable experiences along the trek, and despite this, there were 2,000 Mormon settlers by the end of 1847.

Utahans celebrate this holiday to remember Brigham Young, the pioneers, their strength of character, the endurance and trials they faced, and the obstacles that are faced to have freedom of religion. Since July 1847, there were several events that affected the Mormons, that either prevented the celebrations or added to the celebrations.

The first official Pioneer Day celebration wasn’t until July 24, 1857, and that event was interrupted by Johnson’s Army and wasn’t celebrated again until after 1862. In 1886, festivities took on a more saddened tone, due to many that were imprisoned or in hiding for polygamy, a tenet of their faith at the time.

Today, Pioneer Day is celebrated with re-enactments of the pioneer’s entry into the Salt Lake Valley, parades, concerts, and festivals. Most businesses and government offices also remain closed. Although this holiday has strong Mormon significance, it also commemorates other non-Mormon pioneers that came to Salt Lake City, as well as the Native Americans indigenous to the Utah area.