Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Utah Traditions

by Sariah S. Wilson

So we're on Week 2 (Week 2? Week 3? I can't remember anymore) of the toddler in a toddler bed. I haven't had more than four hours of sleep in a row since we started. Everyone here in my home area kept telling me it'd be over soon, not to worry, she'd adjust. She's not adjusting and I'm not sleeping. It's making me cranky. And non-verbal. Or, in essence, I've become a bit of a toddler myself.

I have a brother getting married on St. Patrick's Day. I'm pretty sure that's not the reason they chose it (although I would be all over that rainbow and leprechaun themed reception if it were me) - in the Salt Lake mission missionaries are allowed to go to their siblings' weddings if it is 1) in the SLC temple and 2) on their P-day. Hence, my other brother's Wednesday P-day gives us a St. Patty's wedding. I'm flying out with the baby and the toddler. By myself. Yes, thank you for your sympathy.

The bride's family asked that my parents provide a luncheon after the temple. This happened at my wedding unexpectedly - my in-laws surprised us and took us to that cool restaurant at the top of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, which made us late for our reception, which got us a lot of winking/knowing (but wrong) looks, which is a story for another day, but now that another sibling is getting married in Utah and the in-law luncheon has come up again, it had me wondering whether this is a tradition native to Utah.

Because a lot of American wedding cultural traditions don't apply to us. For example, there's no need for a rehearsal dinner as there's no wedding rehearsal. So I'm wondering whether an after-wedding meal is perhaps the equivalent of a rehearsal dinner.

It got me thinking about other traditions I've encountered in Utah that surprised me. Like when I learned of the partying that used to go on for baptisms and baby blessings. Growing up the baby was blessed and we just went about the rest of our day like normal. So when we blessed our first baby here in Ohio, our Utah relatives seemed perplexed that we were staying at church and that there was no sort of celebration afterwards. At some of the baby blessings I've attended in the past out in Utah, the baby gets blessed, we stay through Sacrament and then leave to have a party at someone's house (and then it was my turn to be confused - "Aren't we staying for church? Why not?") (I will also add that I think this particular tradition has changed, along with open houses and missionary farewells.)

And don't get me started on Pioneer's Day shock. I honestly wasn't aware that such a celebration existed until my first year of marriage. Because that was the first time I was in Utah in the summer. There was a parade with missionaries from the MTC standing on a Hill Cumorah float singing "Called to Serve" and it was an actual holiday with businesses closing down and everything. This was never celebrated in any of the wards I lived in, which include wards in Indiana, California, Tennessee and Ohio. (Before anyone asks, we were too poor to afford "The Friend" so I couldn't even learn about it there.)

Since I plan on moving to Utah someday to be close to both families, it got me wondering if there are other traditions there that I'm unaware of. I know different areas/regions have their own traditions and ways of doing things, and I'm not meaning to imply that every area of Utah does everything exactly the same, but I'm always curious about how people celebrate and recognize important ceremonies or holidays.


At 1/24/2010 2:11 AM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

I think you about nailed it.

I'm sorry for the lack of sleep. I hope it gets better soon and that toddler and you both get some rest.

At 1/24/2010 2:48 PM, Blogger J Scott Savage said...

1) Pioneer day. We always had a pioneer day primary parade in CA. This was back when primary was on a weekday. I only remember it because we got in trouble for putting a doll in a covered wagon and tipping it over. The leaders were sure we'd just killed our baby brother. But nothing like here. Of course it is a state holiday here. So it wouldn't make as much sense to celebrate it out of state.

2) Scott Card wrote a piece in the Mormon Times condemning parties after farewells, homecomings, baby blessings, etc. He looked at it as everyone skipping out of church.

What I don't think he realized is that--unlike most of the US--there are so many close by wards meeting at so many times, most families who come to a farewell or blessing are also attending their own wards. It's not like they are driving hundreds of miles where going to their wards would be out of the question. As a result, it would not make sense to ask all of the family members to attend all three hours of church with you. (Sacrament meeting is usually held as the first meeting.) So, many families will have a get together after Sacrament meeting at their house. Yes, it means they will miss the next one or two meetings that day, but it is very hard to coordinate schedules otherwise.

3) Another Utah tradition, that is maybe just a small town tradition, but it was new to me is "days." Cherry Days, Artichoke Days, Strawberry Days. Every town has their own days with a parade that is attended like it was the Macys parade. People tie chairs together and spend the night to save spaces. They all have the same carnival company providing rides. But then they have weird things, like the fish rodeo.

4) Also, I've never seen a state where the boys and girls go to such extremes to ask someone to a dance. You can't just call and ask. You have to put clues in a balloon bouquet that leads to a cake with a puzzle inside that you have to assemble.

But all take all this oddity over midwest humidity any day.

At 1/24/2010 4:44 PM, Blogger Anna Buttimore said...

Living about as far from Utah as it's possible to get, I found your blog fascinating, Sariah. I've never even heard of Pioneer day, and when there's a baptism in our ward it's usually after the three-hour block and all the members bring a plate and have a party in the cultural hall afterwards.

Weddings are great. We don't have a rehearsal dinner (even outside the Church it's not UK tradition), but we generally have a big wedding in the chapel in the morning with bridesmaids, best man, rings, etc, then photographs outside the chapel, then a big lunchtime reception in the Cultural Hall, and then the couple drive off to the Temple, still in their wedding clothes, to get sealed, usually followed by close family. Some couples have a six-hour drive to the Temple so it makes for a long day, but since weddings are always on a Saturday, and the Temple is closed on Sunday and Monday, it's either get sealed the same day or wait until Tuesday, when most couples would much rather be on their honeymoon.

At 1/24/2010 5:01 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

L.T. - Thank you. Again, if anyone has any suggestions on how to help a toddler stay in bed and sleep, it'd be most appreciated.

Jeff - I never thought of the Utah family connection. I would have just assumed people would go to the ward of the people having the blessing that day instead of attending their own meetings.

We have "Days" here too; but insted of celebrating fruit we celebrate things like sauerkraut and twins (no, I'm not kidding). I vote for small town thing on that one.

And the asking to dances - that I had never encountered before the Y and had no idea people even did that sort of thing. It gave me some fun memories though - like the time Tyler Pittman answered my Sadie Hawkins invite with a box of Alpha-Bits wherein he had colored all the Ys, Es and Ss.

Anna - I think it is fascinating that members in other countries have a civil and temple ceremony the same day. I just think of how utterly exhausting that day must be with all those events going on!

At 1/24/2010 5:28 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

Hey neat. My wife and I got married on St. Patrick's Day, too!

At 1/24/2010 6:40 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

I grew up in KY and we had big Pioneer Day celebrations—which didn't make sense to me when I was young. Why are we celebrating something that happened in Utah?

As to the after wedding dinner, I'm not sure it's a Utah thing. We had it in KY—either before or after, and yes, it was like a rehearsal dinner, minus the rehearsal.

No help on the toddler bed. Sorry.

At 1/24/2010 7:03 PM, Blogger UTMomof4 said...

Loved your blog Sariah!!
I've now transitioned three children from the crib to a toddler bed. The only thing that worked for us was to put one of those baby gates in their doorway so they can't come out of their room. Sometimes they'd eventually fall asleep on the floor, but they all three finally got used to their beds. It's rough, especially with a baby too. Hang in there. Our big trial is always transitioning the baby from our bed to the crib in the first place. I let my babies get used to sleeping next to me so I can feed them eaiser at night, then it's always a big fight to get them out of my bed once they are about 1 and I try to cut down on feedings. My 10 month old will be hitting that stage before too long.

At 1/25/2010 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anna said...

My first kid got the toddler bed at 18 months because he would scream and scream in his crib. We heard it would take 2-3 days for him to adjust. It took about 3 weeks. We did put a gate up... so he wasn't cut off from everything, but he couldn't get out of his room.

My 2nd slept in a playpen right before she turned 2 (had to live with parents for a time to fix the house). She figured out how to climb out and would scream for grandmom every night and grandmom would rock her to sleep. She was 2 1/2 when she went straight to a twin bed and stays in her bed every night.

Now my 3rd is 12 months and I have no plans of switching her to toddler bed for awhile if I can help it.

On the topic of Utah traditions, I guess it just seemed normal to me that we do all these things. I've lived in Utah all my life, so it just seems normal and natural. I'm curious about what others away from here do.

At 1/25/2010 3:32 PM, Blogger readerMom said...

When you fly out, get one of those toddler leashes (I don't know what they are really called.) I flew with a six- month old and an 18 month old and it saved my life. I've also heard of wrapping toys (not necessarily new ones) so as your kids get bored you can give them a present. You dole them out through the flight to keep them entertained.
I live in Utah and we don't really celebrate the 24th. Everything is closed, but Moab tries really hard to pretend it isn't in Utah, so there is a lame breakfast at the park and that is all.

At 1/25/2010 5:47 PM, Blogger Tristi said...

We tried not to do the wedding meal thingy. We were going to dump all our relatives and just take off. But we got roped into going to Crown Burger after the ceremony (nothin' says happy wedding like Crown Burger) and we didn't really want to.

Now, I have a confession. We always go home after baby blessings. We have relatives who fly in and sometimes they're only able to be there for a couple of hours, and so we go home and feed 'em and enjoy them. I don't consider that a sin.


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