Celebrating Pioneer Day When You Don’t Have Pioneer Ancestry

Image via churchofjesuschrist.org

Your ancestry is something that you should be proud of, no matter where you come from. Pioneer Day should be celebrated by all of us as a way to pay homage to the trailblazing ancestors of many lands.

Here is how you can proudly celebrate Pioneer Day when you don’t have a traditional pioneer ancestry.  

When You Don’t Have Pioneer Ancestry

Pioneer Trek

Personally, when I look at my biological family tree, there is no connection to early Latter-day Saint Pioneers. My mom’s family comes from Micronesia and I was born there. But, I still grew up in America, going to pioneer day celebrations at church and pulling a handcart on Trek. 

The year that I did a pioneer trek I was 17 years old. They asked us to bring stories of our Latter-day Saint pioneer ancestors to share. Well, I felt sort of left out since I don’t have any. I ended up asking one of my friends for a story because I felt sort of embarrassed.

Looking back, I wish that I would have shared a story about one of my pioneer ancestors instead. Even though they weren’t part of a handcart company and they hadn’t walked across the plains, my ancestors are still pioneers. I would like to use this Pioneer Day to celebrate my heritage.

Related Link: 8 Family-Friendly Ways to Celebrate Pioneer Day 

Read About Pioneers in Every Land


If you are a multi-generation member of the Church outside of the United States, that doesn’t mean that your ancestors were not pioneers. The Church History Department has compiled the stories of the people who have spread the gospel throughout the world. They call it Pioneers in Every Land.

Through this website’s research section, you will be able to discover where your ancestors served missions, lived, and traveled. This database also includes personal journals from prophets and photo collections.

The recent pandemic drew my attention to one particular story. In June 1989 Ghana banned church meetings for all Latter-day Saints, they called this time the Freeze. All congregations in the area were instructed to have sacrament meetings in their homes and were not able to meet in their wards and branches.

Nearly 9,000 members of the Church were left without buildings to meet in and without missionaries, having no idea when this ordeal would come to an end. For a year and a half, these faithful members observed the sabbath day and blessed and passed the sacrament in their homes.

William Acquah, a member who lived through the freeze, said, “It really made me respect and honor my priesthood all the more. How can I be harsh on my children during the week or quarrel with my wife and then have them together for the sacrament?”

Stories like these are amazing examples of how faithful people around the world are modern-day pioneers. This Pioneer Day, let’s think about modern pioneers like this.

Do Some Family History

Family history

Find out who your pioneers are through family history. A pioneer is someone who was among the first to explore or settle a new country or area. I think that this also applies to areas like knowledge, science, art, and bravery as well. Look at your family tree and dig for stories. Who was a pioneer of their time? 

In my family, I don’t need to look back too far. My mom is a pioneer! When I was 5 years old, my mom took my sister and me and moved to the United States. As a single mother, she struggled and paved the way for my sister and me to receive the quality education and life that she desired for us. Her hard work and dedication have set a persevering example for generations to come.

The amazing thing about Family Search is that it links to Ancestry.com. Ancestry has become one of the most popular Family History websites because of its home DNA tests. This means that we will have information from more than just members of the Church, making the search for your ancestors much easier.

Related Link: The Complete Family History Resource Guide 

Talk to Family Members and Reflect On Your Own Life

family history on pioneer day

There are many people who are not able to accurately trace their family history. If this is the case, reflect on how you may have been a pioneer in your family. Maybe you were the first person in your family to go to college or you’re the only member of the Church in your family.

Whatever your personal situation may be, there is a pioneer in your family tree, and sometimes you don’t need to go all the way back to the 1800s to find out who it is. Get in touch with family members who are still living and ask them about their lives and stories. They will often know stories about their parents or grandparents as well.

Coming closer to your family members through family history can be contagious. So be warned, this sort of internet archeology is addictive.

Get More In Touch With Tradition


Pioneer Day is usually celebrated by making homemade butter or ice cream. Find a recipe from your homeland to make for your family. I personally loved learning how to make fried rice and chicken adobo, which are traditionally Filipino but were very common recipes in my family.

You could also do some research about traditional clothing worn in your country of origin. Teach your family about what you learn. Growing up, I absolutely loved learning how to do traditional dances and make traditional costumes. We were able to share our culture with our neighbors and it opened so many doors.

How will you celebrate pioneer day? Share in the comments. 

Zoë Holyoak is currently a BYU student, photographer, and writer. Her hobbies include long walks through the ice cream aisle at the grocery store and correcting bad grammar. She is also a proud member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a mission for the Church in Portland, Oregon.