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Mormon and Latter-day Saints Holidays
LDS Holidays Include Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and Other Traditional Celebrations
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.
Illustrated Book on History of Latter Day Saints
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
Book About Mormon Pioneeers
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.