St Piran's Day

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Saint Piran's Day
Stpiraninpenwith.JPG
St Piran's day parade at Penzance in 2006
Observed by Cornish people
Type National day
Celebrations Parades and social events,
Religious observations.
Date 5 March
Next time 5 March 2015 (2015-03-05)
Frequency annual

St Piran's Day (Cornish: Gool Peran) is the national day of Cornwall, England,[1] held on 5 March every year. The day is named after one of the patron saints of Cornwall, Saint Piran, who is also the patron saint of tin miners.

Origins[edit]

Main article: Saint Piran

St Piran's Day started as one of the many tinners' holidays observed by the tin miners of Cornwall.[2] Other miners' holidays of a similar nature include Picrous Day and Chewidden Thursday. The miners of Breage and Germoe observed St Piran's feast day as that of their patron saint until at least 1764.[3]

"St. Piran's Day was said to be a favourite with the tinners who having a tradition that some secrets regarding the manufacture of tin were communicated to their ancestors by that saint, they leave the manufacture to shift for itself for that day, and keep it as a holiday."[4] There is little description of specific traditions associated with this day apart from the consumption of large amounts of alcohol and food during 'Perrantide', the week leading up to March 5.[2] The day following the St Piran's Day was known by many as 'Mazey Day', a term which has now been adopted by the revived Golowan festival in Penzance. The phrase 'drunk as a perraner' was used in 19th century Cornwall to describe people who had consumed large quantities of alcohol.[5]

Modern celebrations[edit]

A re-enactment of Piran crossing the Irish Sea, Helston, 2009

The modern observance of St Piran's day as a national symbol of the people of Cornwall started in the late 19th and early 20th century when Celtic revivalists sought to provide the people of Cornwall with a national day similar to those observed in other nations. Since the 1950s, the celebration has become increasingly observed and since the start of the 21st century almost every Cornish community holds some sort of celebration to mark the event. Saint Piran's Flag is also seen flying throughout Cornwall on this day.[5]

Parades and celebrations take place in a number of towns and cities including:[6]

  • Bodmin - A parade through the streets with Cornish pipers and a children's dance. Speeches by various notables, including the town mayor, Lord Lieutenant, and Grand Bard of Cornwall, followed by children's performances of Cornish plays and songs. 400 people attended the parade in 2009.[7] The parade was started in 1999.[8]
  • Bude - a St Piran's day walk led by a piper and attended by hundreds of people annually.[9]
  • Callington - Shop decorations and a St Piran's Supper with Cornish music and poetry.[6]
  • Camborne - singing with Cadgwith Singers at Camborne Rugby Club.
  • Falmouth - parade through the town including nearly 100 school children. Shop window competition.[10][11]
  • Launceston - Piping the Flag at Launceston Castle, followed by a procession through the town ending at Harvey's Bar including a night of traditional live music with renowned local musicians, e.g. Rob Strike, Crowns.
  • London - Kernow in the City, annual live music event at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. Daytime activities include a showcase of Cornish film, a Cornish language workshop, and Cornish food and drink.
  • Marazion - Procession led by mayor and mace-bearers through the streets, a short ceremony with food and entertainment afterwards.
  • Newquay - St Piran's Feast. Annual Pasty Throwing competition at Newquay Zoo.
  • Penzance - annual performance of St Piran Furry dance and procession through the streets by 500 children. Annual St Piran Schools Concert.[12]
  • Perranarworthal - St Pirantide celebrations at the Norway Inn. Cornish Evensong.
  • Perranporth - Saints and Skinners Festival: A double celebration of St.Piran and St.David with traditional Cornish music.
  • Porthleven - Raising the Flag ceremony with the Old Cornwall Society. Cornish dancing by three local schools.
  • Redruth - first held in 2011 and billed as the biggest St Piran's celebration in Cornwall. It includes entertainments in the town centre before a parade to the rugby club where there was a market and fairground rides, with a rugby match. During the evening there are various live music events at venues across the town. In 2011 over 2000 people attended the rugby club events while hundreds more attended events in the town. 2012 saw three separate marches from different parts of the town converge as one giant procession at the miner's statue before heading to the rugby club.[13][14]
  • Rock - Homecomers celebrate St Piran.
  • Roche - St Pirantide celebrations, Victory Hall.
  • St Issey - Cornish music and singing.
  • St Ives - Procession through the streets.[12]
  • Troon - Annual Mebyon Kernow St Pirans Fete.
  • Truro - Procession through the streets with speeches outside Truro Cathedral, which has a St Piran themed lunch menu in its cafe, and a Cornish folk music session afterwards.[15] Hundreds of people attend the parade annually.[16]
  • Westminster - The St Piran’s Day reception is an annual celebration, held by Cornish MPs in Westminster since 2011. It is attended by MPs, members of the House of Lords and Government ministers from across the UK who come to learn more about Cornwall’s unique culture, heritage and identity. Dan Rogerson MP said of the 2012 event "The aim is to increase understanding of Cornwall’s Celtic heritage and culture in order to inform future debates on devolution, identity and government policy... and we are aiming to go bigger and better next year."
  • USA - St Piran's day is also celebrated annually in Grass Valley, California, United States, to honour the Cornish miners who participated in the area's mining history beginning in the mid 19th century.[17] In addition, Cornish genealogy organizations throughout the United States meet in celebration of Cornish history.

St Piran's Day Bank Holiday proposal[edit]

In 2006 Cornish MP Dan Rogerson asked the government to make 5 March a public holiday in Cornwall to recognise St Piran's Day celebrations. More recently there has been a petition for the holiday. Some council workers in Bodmin were granted the holiday in 2006,[18] and from 2009 Penzance Town Council offered its employees a St Piran's Day Holiday following a campaign by the Celtic League.[19] A total of nine town and city councils across Cornwall have given their staff the day off.

There have been other calls and petitions for a Cornish public holiday on 5 March. It has been suggested that a move from the May Day Bank Holiday to a St Piran's Day Bank Holiday in Cornwall would benefit the Cornish economy by £20-35 million.[20]

In December 2011 Cornwall Council voted in favour of asking the government to make St Piran's Day a bank holiday in Cornwall, should they decide to move the May Day holiday.[21]

Towns and cities that give their staff an annual day off work for St Piran's Day:[22]

Schools that give parents the option of taking their children out of school for the day:[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "St Piran's Day: 10 things you need to know about the annual Cornish day". The Mirror. Mirror.co.uk. 2010-03-05. Retrieved 18 March 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Saint Piran's Day", Historic UK
  3. ^ Attwater, D. (1965) The Penguin Dictionary of Saints. Penguin Books; p. 288
  4. ^ Hunt, Robt., Popular Romances of the West of England
  5. ^ a b "St. Piran's Day", Cornish Culture
  6. ^ a b An Daras[dead link]
  7. ^ Kent, Alice (2010-02-09). "St Piran's Day celebrations". This is Cornwall. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  8. ^ "Hundreds gather to honour patron saint". This is Cornwall. 2012-03-07. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  9. ^ http://www.bude-today.co.uk/news.cfm?id=8752&searchword=bude%20surf
  10. ^ "A special day celebrating St Piran". This is Cornwall. 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  11. ^ "Falmouth to host St Piran's Day celebrations (From Falmouth Packet)". Falmouthpacket.co.uk. 2012-02-08. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  12. ^ a b "They’re preparing to march once more for St Piran". Bude People. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  13. ^ "St Piran's event aims high with big 2012 plans". This is Cornwall. 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  14. ^ "Biggest and best St Piran's festival raises the bar again". This is Cornwall. 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  15. ^ "St Piran Day Events 2011 | Cornwall Info". Cornwallinformation.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  16. ^ "Cornwall Uncovered - Story Celebrating St Piran's Day in Truro". BBC. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  17. ^ Moberly, Greg (2008-03-10). "Flight of the pasty". The Union. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  18. ^ "BBC news 2006 - St Piran's holiday for employees". BBC. 2 June 2006. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  19. ^ Celtic League - St Piran bank holiday
  20. ^ Western Morning News, Cornish National Holiday worth £35m, 23 November 2011 - http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Cornish-national-holiday-worth-pound-35m/story-13929647-detail/story.html?dwrMeth=addComment&afterReg=Y
  21. ^ "St Piran's Day holiday put to Government by council". This is Cornwall. 2011-12-08. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  22. ^ "KERNOW: More council staff get Saint Piran’s day holiday « The Celtic League". Celticleague.net. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  23. ^ "Pupils will be able to miss school for St Piran's Parade". This is Cornwall. 2012-02-16. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 

External links[edit]