MMTP: Holiday Extravaganza!

Your Monday Morning Theological Poll:
Which holiday is more important to our liturgical calendar?

Please discuss your answer below.

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  1. Pioneer day gets a spanking. You should run this again in mid-July and see if the results differ.

  2. Mark Brown says:

    We have a liturgical calendar? Who knew?!

  3. Theologically, Easter prevails, of course. But in terms of true celebration, I think Pioneer Day takes the cake, at least in Utah. Easter doesn’t get its own parade, its own fireworks, or its own reenactments from the Church. It gets a 1st presidency message, though (I can’t remember–does Pioneer Day get a statement from the Church every year?).

  4. Bull Moose says:

    Given that Joseph Smith taught that the foundation of our religion is the testimony of the Apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, that he lived, he died, and that he rose again on the third day, this result really isn’t surprising.

  5. I would like to note for the record that all our talks were about Easter, there were two excellent Easter-theme choir numbers, and our ward building has had a big wooden sign out by the street for a while now saying “Please join us for Easter Services / 9 a.m. & 11 a.m. Easter Sunday.” Yay us!

  6. Pioneer Day only really exists anymore in Utah; and as the vast majority of Saints lives outside Utah…

  7. Scraping the bottom of the MMTP barrel, looks like. Wouldn’t Easter and Christmas be a more even comparison?

  8. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, the answer to the question depends on the definition of “is” in the question. If “is” is used in the prescriptive sense–“ought”, the Easter “ought to be” the more important. If “is” is used in the descriptive sense, i.e., what is the actual level of importance observed by LDS, the question is much closer, and probably depends on the area of the Church.

    I am unaware of Easter parades, but I am aware of Pioneer Day parades. I am unaware of a Churchwide satellite broadcast of an Easter program, but I am aware of a Pioneer Day broadcast.

    At the local level, I think the observance of Pioneer Day or Easter in Sacrament services is hit or miss. I do think that in many places it is slightly more likely that a teacher will decide to create a special Easter lesson (as my wife did yesterday for her primary class) than that a teacher will create a special Pioneer Day lesson.

    In addition, in Arizona, there has long been an annual Easter Pageant (“Jesus the Christ”) at the Mesa temple grounds.

  9. Steve Evans says:

    Pioneer Day gets more showtime than Easter.

  10. For my 5 years in Utah, it always seemed like Pioneer Day was a HUGE deal, and Easter was something mentioned in passing. One of my biggest pet-peeves is the under-celebrating of Easter.

  11. My experiences with Pioneer Day have been somewhat limited – because I have only lived in Utah for certain years. So from my viewpoint and experience, Easter was always a much bigger deal.

    I wonder if the emphasis changes based on whether or not you live in Utah (or other highly-LDS-populated states).

  12. Pioneer Day has been more celebrated, in my experience, than Easter, although we claim that Easter is our most important holiday.

  13. What Mark Brown said. What liturgical calendar?

  14. #7 – I suspect that by comparing Easter to Pioneer Day, the author of the poll is making the point that in our church there is no contest between Christmas and Easter. Comparing Easter to Pioneer Day instead reinforces the idea that Easter is undercelebrated in our church.

  15. Ann and Mark,
    No we don’t, but if we did… At present, there are certainly days that are more important to the church than other days.

    If you think this was inspired by my giving a lesson on Joseph Smith in Sunday School on Easter, you might be right (to be fair, I twisted the lesson to be about Jesus as taught by Joseph and no-one complained).

  16. I voted Pioneer Day, but mostly because yesterday’s services were so disappointing. It was fast Sunday (because of GC), so they handpicked people to bear their testimonies (but the first became a 15 minute talk and pretty much dashed the rest of the meeting). Then in Sunday School and RS we discussed Joseph Smith without a nod to Easter (of course we did – we’re studying D&C and JS). 1 hour on Christ, 2 hours on Joseph Smith. Felt like the wrong balance to me.

  17. Ditto danithew–I’ve never been in Utah on July 24 so, at most, Pioneer Day has meant the ward gets together in a park for a BBQ and some games (and I’ve never heard pioneers mentioned at those BBQs–they’ve been more on a par with the ward FHE at the beach just before the college students leave again for college).

    Yesterday we had a wonderful sacrament meeting where all the hymns were Easter hymns, the choir sang a couple Easter pieces, there was a wonderful opera soloist singing of Easter, the primary kids sang an Easter song, and the speaker spoke of Easter. My wife and I made up an Easter lesson for our Primary class. (Then, unfortunately, because of illnesses and Spring Break, the only boy in our class goes to Priesthood now, so I skipped Sharing time and went to Elders Quorum. My wife says that RS had a great Easter/resurrection lesson; unfortunately, EQ featured a lesson on … wait for it … apostates. So it’s stay in Primary during the third hour for me, from now on. At least there they focused on Easter.)

  18. I guess I’m pleased to report that in my ward, Easter is more important than Pioneer Day. We don’t have any pioneer celebrations in our ward (or stake), but we do have a big Easter program on Easter Sunday. As for the rest of the wards I’ve lived in, I can’t say either holiday has appeared to have tremendous significance.

  19. Kevin Barney says:

    In my area, neither is important and both are afterthoughts at best.

    We used to celebrate Pioneer Day regularly out here in Illinois when I was growing up. I remember ward camping trips to Nauvoo, for example. Now, about once every four or five years someone will decide we should have a ward picnic for Piorneer Day, and that’s about it.

    We have very little celebration of Easter, which is mostly left to families and Easter baskets. More often than not, the bishopric member in charge of that month simply forgets that Easter is coming up until it’s too late to do anything special for it.

  20. Oh, good grief. This is even a question? Of course Easter is more important than Pioneer Day.

    You are right, Mark Brown (#2), sadly right. My stake had stake conference yesterday, much to my dismay. And next year General Conference is going to be Easter weekend.

    I wish the whole church would take a page from Elder Holland’s recent GC talk and give Holy Week the observance it’s due.

  21. I’m willing to bet it’s different inside Utah and the rest of the world. Our Easter Sunday consisted of zero talks that were specifically about Easter or Christ, and an EQ lesson about being prepared in which the teacher showed us all his survival gear he takes when camping.

    I know for a fact Pioneer Day got more play last year during church than Easter did this year, and every year I can remember.

  22. We had a great Easter program. Music, speakers etc. We even had lillies on the stand for the service. We had 2 non-member dads in attendance and they enjoyed the whole thing.
    Here in TX Easter is much more important than Pioneer day.

  23. bbell is right about Texas. Instead of getting MLK Day or President’s Day off from work, we got Good Friday off. Even more, the kids get Good Friday and Monday off of school. I grew up in a northern state so maybe this is something new, but Easter seems to be a bigger deal here. And yes, everything is bigger in Texas, including the size of Easter eggs.

  24. re: 15. We were on that same lesson. As the GD teacher, I completely abandoned it in favor of an Easter lesson. I announced at the beginning of class that,notwithstanding what the lesson manual said, on Easter we should have an Easter lesson and the same goes for Christmas. I also apologized to those who prepared for the JS lesson (both of them) and proceeded with an Easter lesson, complete with the Elder Holland Easter video clip via YouTube. (After a member reminded me President Monson allegedly said to avoid the internet during GC last week.) fwiw, there was a member of our stake presidency there and he pulled me aside afterwards and said he enjoyed the class. (My guess is he hadn’t prepared for the JS lesson either.)

    As to the OP, in my experience Pioneer Day gets way more attention than is warranted and is at least equal to or more than Easter in emphasis. I think we LDS just outsource Easter celebration to the rest of the Christian world and ride their Easter coattails. At times that leaves our Easter observance almost perfunctory. But a good, tragic pioneer story or the retelling of the injustices visited upon Mormon pioneers really gets the congregation going.

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    rbc, when I taught GD I regularly did the same thing you did. I would preempt the normal curriculum for special Easter and Christmas lessons. I never, ever received a complaint for doing this, but I usually received a lot of heartfelt thanks.

  26. When I told the Young Men’s President that I was dropping the regular YM’s lesson yesterday in favor of an Easter lesson, his response made me think that he almost *expected* it. Which was kinda refreshing.

  27. I live in a town of about 5,000 people in Alaska. Every July, we celebrate “Progress Days.” IT was instituted by a former mayor who was LDS, who is also now a former Stake President.

    Easter gets some love, but should get a lot more. We had a nice program yesterday with 3 choir numbers, and two speakers, including The Parable of the Ketchup Bottle.

  28. Pioneer day gets a spanking. You should run this again in mid-July and see if the results differ.

    You should run this poll like EPSN’s polls, where you show the breakdown of results by geographic area. $10 says that in Utah, PD is #1.

  29. In my last stake (in Pittsburgh), they do a big Good Friday concert every year that draws a large crowd of members, friends, and the larger community. It’s a huge deal with a stake choir that works for months, lots of professional and semi-professional solos and small groups, and guest artists from the community. On pioneer day, they have a primary activity. To me, that seems like about the right balance in terms of extra-Sabbath observance.

  30. Easter really needs a vamp up in Utah. I’d like the Church to try and get more public activities going. It’s kind of depressing seeing how lacksidasical about Easter everyone is here. Especially coming from the east coast where it is pretty huge.

  31. Which one SHOULD be more important? Or which one IS in action? Because they are waaaaaaay different answers!

    No ward would ever skip over the pioneer days or the lessons on pioneers. But many (MANY!) a ward glosses over Easter, scheduling ward/stake conferences instead, sticking to correlated lessons that don’t mention Easter, etc… Not all wards, but it’s common enough that it’s embarrassing.

  32. Tracy,
    Although my wards have had the occasional talk about pioneers in late July (and sometimes the obligatory Come Come Ye Saints, which is a fine enough hymn that I don’t have a problem with it), I can’t remember a ward where SS or priesthood talked about pioneers in lieu of the correlated lesson. On that count, and in my experience, Easter certainly beats Pioneer Day.

  33. But I didn’t read your last sentence–it is hugely embarrassing where the Church or a ward leaves out Easter. Worse, IMHO, than not mentioning Christmas would be (if that were to happen).

  34. Eric Russell says:

    What’s truly disturbing is that the church clearly places more importance on Brigham than on Joseph. A whole celebration for Pioneer Day, but what of all the holidays for Joseph?

  35. @ 34–

    I don’t know if “truly disturbing” is the way I’d choose to describe the decision to celebrate the establishment of a place the Saints have called home permanently vs. celebrating the establishment of a place we were booted from a couple of years after arriving.

    Also, getting the saints from Illinois to Salt Lake was a wee bit longer and harder of a trip that going between Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois.

  36. belledame2 says:

    I spent my Easter with my family visiting a Protestant Easter church service instead of listening to a Salte Lake City satellite TV conference for the Midwest. So as far as I’m concerned, Easter outranks Pioneer Day by a long shot.

  37. belledame2 (36), are we in the same stake? :-) Our family also boycotted our stake conference broadcast from Salt Lake, and instead attended a tiny local non-denonimational (think Little House on the Prairie) church that a friend regularly attends. Wonderful breakfast, wonderful music, wonderful spirit. Sorry, but I am not making my kids spend yet another weekend sitting in the dark in the chapel, especially not on Easter.

  38. I think you’re a little confused. We don’t have a liturgical calendar. But if we did, Pioneer Day would not be on it.

  39. I’ve lived in Utah most of my life and I can tell you that, from my perspective, Pioneer Day has no theological weight. It is a historical celebration, like other states have as founding days or something. We celebrate our heritage, and remember our ancestors, but we don’t make much of a religious point about it. It’s a holiday that transcends religion in Utah. Outside of Utah, the only reason to celebrate it would be a religious one, but only because of history and heritage, not theology.

  40. Eric Russell says:

    Scott, considering the direct correlation between our theology and our holidays, it’s more than disturbing, it’s a tragedy.

  41. It’s tragic? Oh.
    Thank you for correcting my wrongheadedness.

  42. I agree with MCQ

    Pioneer Day is more like a ethnic holiday then a religious one.

    Think Columbus day for Italians or St Patricks day for Irish folks.

  43. belledame2 says:

    #37 Carrie:

    Yes! It’s so nice to know I’m not alone! I am from the upper Midwest. You certainly hit the nail on the head 100%. Easter is about Jesus Christ’s resurrection, not a bunch of talking heads from Salt Lake City who barely even make any mention of the special day. It seems our Savior is being put off to the side in favor of LDS Inc policies.

  44. Write-in: Mother’s Day
    Where I am, Mother’s Day is celebrated with musical numbers, talks, lessons, and flowers. Christmas is the only serious contender for most important holiday. Pioneer Day gets a primary activity and maybe a Sacrament meeting talk. Easter gets a broadcast Stake Conference (which mentioned the day more than previous comments suggested, but not as much as I’d like).

  45. We go right past PD here in the NE and don’t even wave as we go by. We had a HC speaker in Sacrament who was supposed to deliver a Stake Easter Message but I didn’t really get the tie in. Our BP did give a brief talk about the hope which the Atonement provides for each of us which was nice. Both GD and RS lessons were straight out of the book. I may try another church for Easter services next year.

  46. Pioneer Day is the only holiday that is commemorated outside of Sacrament Meeting.

    Sometimes I think there are only two religious holidays in the LDS church — Pioneer Day and General Conference. All the others are celebrated according to local culture.