Okay, I'll admit, part of the reason I was excited about Pioneer Day is that I wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday-they-didn't-observe. I don't think it's any secret that I think it's silly to wish a happy special day only to people to whom the day is special. It's a good opportunity to learn about different cultures!
So let me tell you about Pioneer Day! Back in the 1840's, times were really, really tough for the Mormons, and it got to a point where they just had to get up and move far, far away so that people wouldn't constantly be burning down their houses and stuff. So they all got up and moved to Utah! Tadah! The first group of settlers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847. And, at least on the western side of the United States, we celebrate it every year on the Saturday before the 24th, usually with a big barbecue.
To be honest, we never participated in the festivities here in Fresno, mainly because it gets so hot in the summer here that they start at the obscenely early hour of, like, eight in the morning. Back in Glendale, nothing really started until ten, so it was nice. It's really more of a big event for the children, who all get dressed up in pioneer costumes and pretend to pull handcarts in a mini-parade, singing, "Pioneer children sang as they walked and walked and walked and waaaaalked♪" I wonder if Mom still has our pioneer dresses...
We also have pioneer-style games like a potato sack race, and a three-legged race, which we dominated. We haven't been so good at it lately. I think it's partially because we're out of shape, and partially because people who don't regularly participate in three-legged races don't realize that rope cuts into your ankle, and you should never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever! use it in a three-legged race. And twine is right out. I think you can guess what was used the last time we were in a three-legged race (in case it's not as obvious as I thought it was, it was twine; we had some pretty spectacular bruising after that...).
In Glendale, there's a park with a little stone stage type thing in the picnic area, and the people in our stake would decorate it with bales of hay and gingham cloth, and sometimes a few grownups in the stake would dress in pioneer clothes and make pioneer performances, like with fiddles and song numbers that kind of make me think of when the little girls were singing in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" The only song I remember was when some ladies sang a song about "staying away from those Mormon boys."
Something else I remember about Pioneer Day celebrations is bubbles. I don't know why. I just seem to remember blowing bubbles. Athena suggests that bubble kits were among the cheap prizes they had for the three-legged race.
And there was cake. Lots of cake. Because usually there was a cake-baking contest, with prizes for the prettiest and the tastiest. And probably special prizes if you had a really fun idea but maybe it wasn't super elegant or delicious. Ah, memories. I wonder what yesterday's Pioneer Day celebration was like...
Today I'm thankful for Pioneer Day, good opportunities to remember our heritage, getting to sing (or play, in my case) pioneer songs in church today, fun songs from the Disney Johnny Appleseed cartoon (we were thinking the first Pioneer Day celebrations were just, "Hey, we're in our new home! Time to celebrate!" and then they had a party like the one in the Johnny Appleseed cartoon), and getting to pay tithing today!.