Our destination today is Salt Lake City, Utah, and the main goal is the largest Mormon temple in the world. If you ask the locals what their main attraction is, most of them will recommend Temple Square. The massive and beautiful temple is located in downtown.
Salt Lake City is an unlikely vacation spot for Europeans since most of them prefer going to popular beach destinations during the holiday season. Do you know that two million Brits, for example, are set to escape the cold weather this winter? This figure was reported by the blogger Ree Saunders, who also revealed that 3% of that number is planning to go abroad this Christmas. If you want to avoid the crowd and enjoy a meaningful holiday, then Salt Lake City is the place to be.
Salt Lake Temple is one of the most prominent temples of the LDS Church, or also known as The Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This magnificent temple took more than 40 years to complete and it was also the 4th temple to be established out of the 140 temples that exist today. The Salt Lake Temple doesn’t allow public tour since this place is considered sacred, but you can still get in if you have a temple recommend. So how can one obtain this? All you have to do is answer several questions faithfully and hope that pass the test. If you’re not qualified to enter the temple, you can still visit the temple grounds since that is open to the public.
Before we explore Temple Square even further, let’s get to know about the LDS Church, or also called the Mormon Church. Many people ask if the Mormons are Christians? Yes, they are because they believe in Jesus Christ. However, the LDS doctrines about the potential of mankind and the nature of God differ from the Christian belief. Just like most Christians, they read the Bible (both the Old and the New Testaments), but they also have other scriptural texts including the Book of Mormon.
The LDS Church was founded by American religious leader Joseph Smith, who published the Book of Mormons in 1830. Before it became a religious group, it started out as a missionary church that convert people into Mormonism. From the first LDS Church in Kirtland, Ohio, there are now church congregations located in more than 160 nations and territories worldwide. As of today, there are more than 10 million members of the Mormon Church (Update: 15 million members), and the numbers continue to increase especially in Utah.
Since the Mormons believe in Jesus Christ, many people assume that they also celebrate Christmas. That’s true because they also put up a Christmas tree, stockings, lights, and they believe in Santa Claus as well. But according to an article published on WordPress, “We Mormons try to use the Christmas season as an opportunity to renew our commitment to helping those around us who may not have family, or may not have enough to meet their own needs. Christmas is a wonderful time to remember to reach out and give, especially where the need is great or for even basic items.”
To spread the Christmas cheer, Temple Square was decorated with colorful lights, lanterns, garlands, and nativities. Aside from the visual feast, there will be holiday concerts and spectacular shows to be held in different venues. Some of the much-awaited events include the Winter Wonderland Concert at the Assembly Hall on December 30; followed by the New Year’s Eve Performance at the Tabernacle.
The Tabernacle was originally built for the LDS Church meetings, but the meetings were later on held at the LDS Conference Center due to the increase of members. Before amplifiers and electronics were invented, the Tabernacle already boasts of its amazing acoustic qualities so people can hear the sermons clearer. You can also find the Salt Lake Tabernacle organ in this dome-shaped auditorium, which is a spectacular pipe organ that’s used to accompany the prestigious Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Even if you’re sitting around 170 feet away from the stage, you can still enjoy the impressive music of the choir.
After enjoying great music, you can continue your quest to discover more about the LDS Church by visiting the Church History Museum. You can find galleries and exhibits that feature the richness of Mormon life and the history of the church. There is a Museum Store where you can purchase informative books, reproduction prints, and other souvenir items. The museum is open from Mondays to Sundays and admission is free!
If you still have time to tour the place, then it is a must to visit the homes of Brigham Young, who used to be the President of the LDS Church. The historic house was built around 1853 and 1855; and you can find that the interiors and exteriors are well-maintained. There’s also a park named after Brigham Young where you can unwind and even enjoy free concerts.
The Mormons have always been passionate about gardening and you can take a look at their hard work by joining the garden tours. You will see a wide variety of gardens – from spring tulips to vegetable gardens. You can also find new plant varieties each year which makes it an interesting place to visit even if you do it annually.
There are still so many wonderful things to see and do in Temple Square so make sure to allot at least two or three days in that area to learn more about the Mormons and be amazed by how rich they lived their lives. After touring Temple Square you may now say that there is indeed “heaven here on earth.”