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Mormon and Latter-day Saints Holidays

Updated on May 07, 2015
Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy writes about American life, holidays, politics and other topics. She has written hundreds of articles for online & print publications.

LDS Holidays Include Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and Other Traditional Celebrations

Mormons celebrate the same holidays other Christians celebrate each year.
Mormons celebrate the same holidays other Christians celebrate each year. | Source

Types of Holidays Mormons Celebrate

A frequent question people in the Mormon Church hear is what holidays they celebrate.

Many do not realize that the Mormon Church (officially called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or LDS) celebrates the same holidays other Christian churches celebrate.

Mormons indeed celebrate Christmas, Easter and other important days and events in church and family life.

They also celebrate holidays that reflect the country in which they live. In the United States, for example, Thanksgiving is a traditional celebration. But since it is unique to the history of the USA, it is usually not celebrated in other parts of the world.

And yes, these celebrations include all the festivities; depending on the holiday, you’ll see Christmas trees, Easter Baskets or any number of other iconic representations of each season.

You might even find Santa dropping by an LDS chapel during a Christmas party and passing out candy or small gifts to the children. Mormon youth groups (and even the adults) go caroling at local nursing homes and do service projects for underprivileged groups during the holidays as well as all year long.

Typical LDS Holiday Celebrations

As with other Christian churches, Christmas and Easter are the most sacred holidays honored and celebrated in the LDS Church and are part of the beliefs of the Mormon Church.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, and some Mormon church groups display Nativity and Creche scenes during the holiday season (including live reenactments, in some places) often with live music. Local LDS congregations also have special music concerts or other programs for the Christmas season.

These celebrations are open to the public and community, and because of the strong tradition of music in the church, they’re very popular (plan to arrive early to get a good seat!).

Families will gather for the holiday dinner (which can be on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day) and exchange gifts. Homes are decorated in whatever manner typifies the country or community where the family lives. This can include Christmas trees, stockings over the hearth, candles, Manger scenes, angels or other traditional motifs.

Easter honors and recognizes Jesus’ sacrifice and atonement for the sins of all who accept Him as the Savior.

Worship services during the Easter season can include special musical programs, talks about Jesus’ Atonement and Resurrection and other reminders of the meaning of the holiday.

Many Mormon chapels hold Easter Egg Hunts and other events for the children of the congregation and neighboring community. Everyone is welcome to attend, whether they’re members of the church or not.

At Thanksgiving, a traditional dinner is usually part of the celebration in each household (and the menu can vary, depending on what part of the United States you live in!). And yes, all the dishes you would see anywhere else will appear on the table!

Video About Heritage of Mormon Pioneer Day

How Mormons Celebrate Family Events

Mormon families also celebrate the same special events every family honors. Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, graduations and other benchmarks of life are very important to this family-oriented church.

Depending on what country they live in, LDS Church members recognize Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents’ Day (in some countries) and other favorite celebrations.

If other special life-events are celebrated in a culture, Mormons who are part of the culture may also choose to recognize these milestones. If you have Mormon friends in Mexico, chances are they might hold a Quinceañera party to celebrate when a daughter turns 15.

Weddings in the LDS Church are usually followed by a reception (which can include food, cake, music, dancing and blowing bubbles as the bride and groom dash out the door).

Story of LDS Pioneer Family

Mormon Pioneer Day

A few events recognized by Mormons are unique to the LDS Church. The most significant of these is July 24th, which is Pioneer Day.

Pioneer Day celebrates and recognizes the migration and settling of Mormon pioneers to what is now Utah.

Early Mormons fled westward when their homes and community were under attack in Nauvoo Illinois. At the time, church members had already migrated from and been driven out of New York, Ohio and Missouri, and now would flee Illinois.

Brigham Young, the church’s president and leader at the time, led church members across the rugged terrain to the west of Illinois. This migration is the theme of a beloved LDS hymn, Come, Come Ye Saints (sung in the video here).

The hymn's theme focuses on their search for a safe place to live: "We'll find the place, which God for us prepared, far away, in the West; where none shall come to hurt or make afraid, there the saints will be blessed."

Despite the hardships of the journey, the final refrain echoes church members' commitment to focus on the blessings ahead of them and to rejoice when "all is well," and they finally find a land where they can live without persecution.

Arrival in Utah:

Mormon history tells that when Brigham Young saw the uninviting landscape of the Salt Lake Valley (on July 24th, 1847), he declared, “This is the place.” The land was challenging and unappealing, and Mormon pioneers held hope that no others would want to settle it, and perhaps church members could live and worship there in peace.

Pioneer Day is celebrated throughout the church worldwide as a significant point and event in the history of the LDS Church, and it is an official state holiday in Utah. The event is also significant as one of the major forces in America's settling of the West.

Celebrations of Pioneer Day can include parades, picnics, and even reenactments of the challenges early church members faced as they faced severe weather conditions and other challenges (some traveled by handcart the entire way).

These are just a few of the many holidays Mormons recognize and celebrate. Each country has its own local traditions, so a congregation in one part of the world might honor holidays that aren’t commonly known of in other countries.

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  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 3 years ago from Planet Earth

    Oh my! I do know what you mean - when I joined the church, I had people ask if we believed in Jesus (even though it's in the name of the church!), and several other very strange questions. But the good news is that the questions opened dialogues for people to learn. And it was all fine after that!

    Thanks for your comments - good to meet you here, Wakerra!

  • Wakerra profile image

    Wakerra 3 years ago

    it's kind of funny how Mormon's get confused with Jehovah's Witnesses. A couple of times on my mission in Minnesota people would say "We like to celebrate our birthdays" or "Well you guys don't celebrate Christmas"

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Billy - thanks for your comments here, and I'm glad you found new Information in the hub. I was similarly unclear about these things before I looked into the church and then joined it. We celebrate the same holidays all churches recognize, and people visiting one of our chapels are often surprised at the similarities in the worship services each Sunday.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Marcy, that was very interesting and educational. I admit that I only knew about half of this information; awareness is so important for us all, and I thank you for making me more aware.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Suzette - thank you so much for your kind words and positive feedback! I agree - Utah is gorgeous, and it's quite a testimony to the dedication church members had to carve a viable and rewarding life in what was originally a rather challenging area.

  • suzettenaples profile image

    Suzette Walker suzettetaos 4 years ago from Taos, NM

    Thanks for an interesting and informative article. This is well done and well written and very comprehensive. The Mormans seem to have turned that dry unappealing land of Utah into God's paradise - it is a beautiful state. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. Voted up!

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Avionnovice - yes, I'm LDS! I'm so glad you enjoyed the hub and learned from it. So many people are not aware of the church and its beliefs.

  • aviannovice profile image

    Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

    Are you LDS, Marcy? This is great info on something that I know very little about.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Thanks for asking about that, Alocsin - yes, Joseph Smith founded the church, and while his birthday is remembered, it's not a formal holiday or anything. Another date that is remembered is the date he was killed. He has a place of honor as the founder and first prophet of the church, but there are no 'religious holidays' related to his date of birth or death.

  • alocsin profile image

    alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

    I'm surprised that there are no celebrations surrounding Joseph Smith, since he was instrumental to the spreading of the religion. Voting this Up and Interesting.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image
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    Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

    Hi, Nettlemere - I feel the same way - I get tears thinking of what our ancestors went through. You have a strong heritage of those struggles in the UK, too. What a legacy of dedication they left us!

  • Nettlemere profile image

    Nettlemere 4 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

    The video fitted in with a book I am reading on local history in Lancashire around that time - people went through such hardships, but in the case of the Pioneer family it is astonishing the faith they showed selling everything and leaving all they knew to go to such a far away place.

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