Sunday, July 25, 2010

Our first Pioneer Day

Utah's state holiday was officially celebrated yesterday but kicked off for us last week with a neighborhood parade complete with bag pipes and tractors. Since then there's been nightly rodeos, fireworks, and other small town festivities.

Pioneer Day marks the entrance of settlers into the Salt Lake basin. The overwhelming majority of those were Mormons but it is possible to enjoy many of the fun events without being LDS; kind of like more than Christians celebrate Christmas.

When you dig a little deeper though this state holiday is a little unusual. I can't imagine the state of New Mexico, for instance, celebrating the arrival of Anglos. Pioneer day is only possible in Utah because the culture here is so monolithic. The "Taste of the Town" event in our city last night was attended by at least a thousand, with very few exceptions all of those were the same ethnicity.

The history of the man who led the Mormons into Utah is also not something many would hold up as worthy of celebrating. Brigham Young had as many as 55 wives, held a number of uncouth views, and by some accounts attempted to start his own country called Deseret in the western region of America.

But this state holiday, like others, appears to be largely a secular event and so even interracial, non-LDS families like mine can enjoy it.