Wednesday, April 5 is First Contact Day 2023. According to the film Star Trek: First Contact, this is the date that Vulcans will make first contact with humans in 2063. But what does First Contact Day mean? Why is it important to Star Trek‘s Federation, and how can you celebrate this auspicious occasion?

Pictured: Star Trek FIRST CONTACT DAY key art.

Photo Cr: Paramount+/CBS ©2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Zephram Cochrane

In First Contact, it is explained that Vulcans initiate first contact with humans because Zephram Cochrane (James Cromwell) successfully achieves Earth’s first warp flight. A passing Vulcan ship detects the successful flight and lands at the site where Cochrane took off and landed: Bozeman, Montana.

Pictured: Anson Mount as Pike of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: STRANGE NEW WORLDS.

Another frequent visitor to Montana. Photo Cr: Marni Grossman/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.

According to Trek canon, first contact with the Vulcans is a watershed transformative event for humanity. In the decades before first contact, Earth is entrenched in conflict. In the Star Trek: Strange New Worlds series premiere, Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) said this conflict had many names. It was called the “Second Civil War,” then “The Eugenics War,” and then just “World War III.” He states this conflict causes the extinction of 600,000 species of plants and animals, and cost thirty percent of humanity their lives.

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But in First Contact, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) explains to Data (Brent Spiner) that Cochrane builds his ship, the Phoenix, out of a discarded WWIII missile. Picard describes the fact that the Phoenix‘s subsequent warp flight inaugurates an era of peace as “an historical irony.” 

This is because contact with the Vulcans causes humans to put aside our differences and become a truly global community. In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode “The Savage Curtain,” Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) states these values. “We’ve each learned to be delighted with what we are,” says Kirk. “The Vulcans learned that centuries before we did.”

First Contact

In the wake of first contact with the Vulcans, humanity enters a new stage of development. Capitalism is abolished. Humans take the first steps to explore the wider galaxy. Technological advances eliminate food scarcity. Humanity stops fighting one another and instead begins working together.

In the novel Star Trek: The Next Generation: Planet X by Michael Jan Friedman, several X-Men visit the U.S.S. Enterprise-D. Speaking with Ororo (aka Storm), Picard gains new insight into the value of the utopian Federation. “I hope you comprehend the wonder of a society that judges each being on [their] merits,” Ororo says. ” More than your technological advances, more than the great distances you have traveled in search of knowledge… this is the true miracle of your Federation, Captain.”

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Pictured (L-R): Jerry O’Connell as Commander Ransom, Fred Tatasciore as Lieutenant Shaxs and Dawnn Lewis as Captain Freeman of the CBS All Access series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS. Photo Cr: Best Possible Screen Grab CBS 2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

But it’s a long way, getting from here to there. Perhaps that’s why the traditional First Contact Day meal is salmon. This fish must fight its way upstream in order to reproduce. The fact that salmon is served on First Contact Day is revealed through dialogue from Jack Ransom (Jerry O’Connell) in the Star Trek: Lower Decks season 1 finale, “No Small Parts.” 

If you’re looking for a salmon recipe, consider checking out The Star Trek Cookbook by Ethan Phillips (Neelix on Star Trek: Voyager) and William J. Birnes. This contains a recipe for “Lieutenant Barclay’s Crab-Stuffed Salmon” from actor Dwight Schultz. This is an especially appropriate recipe to celebrate First Contact Day because Barclay has a cameo appearance in First Contact in which he meets Cochrane before his fateful flight. Serve this entree with a side of steamed broccoli and listen to “Magic Carpet Ride” by Steppenwolf while eating for maximum effect.

Soarin’ Over Bozeman

"Grounded" Epi#301--Tawny Newsome as Ensign Beckett Mariner, Jack Quaid as Ensign Brad Boimler, James Cromwell as Zefram Cochrane, Noël Wells as Ensign Tendi, and Eugene Cordero as Ensign Rutherford of the Paramount+ series STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS. They are about to enjoy the Phoenix ride's jump to warp. Photo: PARAMOUNT+ ©2022 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved

In the Lower Decks season 3 premiere “Grounded,” the beta shifters visit Bozeman in the early 2380s. This illuminates just how important first contact is for the people of the Federation. For one thing, the location has been transformed into an historical amusement park. First contact is celebrated with a variety of all-ages attractions and treats (including churros and salmon-based snacks). It also gives us a glimpse of the statue of Cochrane alluded to by Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) in First Contact.

A model of this statue can be seen on La Forge’s desk in the Star Trek: Picard season 3 episode “The Bounty.” A similar model sits on a shelf in the quarters of Captain Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) on Star Trek: Enterprise. The ubiquity of the statue exemplifies how important first contact was for the course of human history.

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The statue depicts Cochrane pointing towards the sky. This exemplifies how his work on the Phoenix helped humanity rise from the ashes of war to join together and reach new heights than were once thought possible.

LeVar Burton as Geordi La Forge at his desk in"The Bounty" Episode 306, Star Trek: Picard on Paramount+. On the desk is the model of the Cochrane statue.

Photo Credit: Trae Patton/Paramount+. ©2021 Viacom, International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

But before Cochrane was depicted in bronze as pointing towards the sky, he raised his hand in another gesture. As depicted in First Contact, Cochrane greeted the Vulcan first contact party by returning their Vulcan salute. Originated by Leonard Nimoy (Spock), this gesture means “live long and prosper” and “peace and long life.” After first contact with the Vulcans, these dreams become humanity’s reality.

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