Wherever you are in Cornwall on Sunday, you can expect to see the Cornish flag flying with pride and plenty of celebrations. 5 March is St Piran’s Day, held in honour of Cornwall’s patron saint.
Bizarrely for a Cornish saint, he was an Irish immigrant. In an odd story though probably totally normal in the ‘olden’ days, the Kings of Ireland threw him into a stormy sea with a millstone around his neck, which miraculously became calm and he floated across the water to Perranporth. It was here that he built a small chapel among the sand dunes and his first disciples were a badger, a fox and a bear (things were different back then OK?) Eventually people would come from miles around to hear him preach, especially as he had the gift of miracles.
One day a black stone on his fire leaked a white liquid – tin! St Piran had ‘discovered’ smelting – although more of a rediscovery since tin had been smelted in Cornwall since before the Romans’ arrival. The Cornish flag of St Piran (white cross on a black background) represents white tin flowing from the black rock.
Fond of a drink, he met his watery end falling down a well.
St. Piran’s Day was a favourite with the tinners who kept it as a holiday, and plenty of booze and food were consumed during ‘Perrantide’. The phrase ‘drunk as a perraner’ was common in 19th century Cornwall.
Almost every Cornish community celebrates in some way, the biggest ones in Bodmin, Falmouth, Newquay (annual pasty throwing competition at Newquay Zoo), Redruth – (the biggest St Piran’s celebration in Cornwall) and Truro.
And not just Cornwall! Kernow in the City at Rich Mix in London’s Shoreditch, is hosted by Wrecker’s Wednesday, the monthly Cornish London meet up event. Showcasing Cornish contemporary culture and entertainment you’ll be treated to live music, poetry, Cornish ale and food.
On Sunday you can also join in the ‘Trelawny Shout’, at 9pm in pubs across Cornwall. A shout is the term used for Cornish pub singing, and what better way to celebrate the strength of Cornwall’s amazing communities than to take part in a mass singing of the Cornish anthem, or The Song of the Western Men, to give it its proper name?
A hundred pubs, a thousand voices, one song, one magical hour, raising funds for the Cornwall Community Foundation for projects in every village and town in Cornwall.
“And shall Trelawny live?
Or shall Trelawny die?
Here’s twenty thousand Cornish men
Will know the reason why!”