- Where to Go
- The Best of the Valley of the Sun
- Wild West Adventure
- Let Scottsdale Rock Your World
- Finding Water in the Sonoran Desert
- Spring Training
- Arizona Family Road Trip
- Phoenix Points of Pride
- Southwestern Culture and Heritage
- Nocturnal Scottsdale
- Exploring Phoenix’s Architecture
- Unexpected Arizona
- Desert Chic
- Chilly Drinks and Cool Eats in Scottsdale
Arizona has a rich religious tradition, beginning with the spiritual practices of Native Americans who first worshipped in the region thousands of years ago. European missionaries introduced Catholicism to the Southwest in the 16th century, with Franciscan and Jesuit priests traveling throughout the Sonoran Desert to convert many of its indigenous people.
Today, about 25 percent of Arizonans identify themselves as Catholic, according to the Pew Center, due in large part to the sizable Latino population. There are still cultural reminders in Arizona of the Southwest’s unique style of Catholicism, which incorporates indigenous customs, such as Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Some Latino families celebrate the holiday October 31 through November 2 by visiting the graves of their ancestors or building small altars decorated with sugar skulls, artwork, flowers, and favorite foods. At Christmastime, luminarias, small votive candles in paper bags, are lit to celebrate the holiday season.
As for the rest of Arizona, more than a third of the state is Protestant. About 4 percent of the population is Mormon, or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormon pioneers settled the East Valley town of Mesa in 1878, and the Valley of the Sun has the nation’s largest concentration of Mormons outside of Utah. Also, there are small Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu populations throughout the state. New Age followers have flocked to Sedona in recent years, as well, citing the area’s “spiritual energy” and Native American traditions.
© Jeff Ficker from Moon Phoenix, Scottsdale & Sedona, 1st edition