St Piran's Day
St Piran's Day (Cornish: Gool Peran) is the national day of Cornwall, 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.
St Piran's Day started as one of the many tinners' holidays observed by the tin miners of Cornwall. Other miners' holidays of a similar nature include Picrous Day and Chewidden Thursday. There is little description of specific traditions associated with this day. However, many observers noted the large consumption of alcohol and food during 'Perrantide'. 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.
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.
Parades and celebrations take place in a number of towns and cities including:
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. The parade was started in 1999.
Bude - a St Piran's day walk led by a piper and attended by hundreds of people annually.
Callington - Shop decotations and a St Piran's Supper with Cornish music and poetry.
Camborne - singing with Cadgwith Singers at Camborne Rugby Club.
Falmouth - parade through the town including nearly 100 school children. Shop window competition.
Launceston - Piping the Flag at Launceston Castle, followed by a procession through the town ending at the West Gate.
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.
Perranarworthal - St Pirantide celebrations at the Norway Inn. Cornish Evensong.
Perranporth - St Piran is welcomed from the sea. A processional play is enacted across the sand dunes to St Piran's oratory and then to the ruins of his church, attended by over 1000 people annually.
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.
Rock - Homecomers celebrate St Piran.
Roche - St Pirantide celebrations, Victory Hall.
St Issey - Cornish music and singing.
St Ives - Procession through the streets.
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. Hundreds of people attend the parade annually.
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. In addition, Cornish genealogy organizations throughout the United States meet in celebration of Cornish history.
St Piran's Day Bank Holiday proposal
In 2006, Cornish MP Dan Rogerson asked the government to make the 5th of March a public holiday in Cornwall to recognise celebrations for St Piran's Day. More recently, there has been a petition for the holiday. Some council workers in Bodmin were granted the holiday in 2006, and from 2009 Penzance Town Council will offer its employees a St Piran's Day Holiday following a campaign by the Celtic League. 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 the 5th of March. It is suggested that a move from the May day bank holiday to a St Piran's day bank holiday in Cornwall, on March 5, would benefit the Cornish economy by L20-35 million.
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 bank holiday.
Towns and cities that give their staff an annual day off work for St Piran's Day:
Bodmin Town Council
Penzance Town Council
Truro City Council
Hayle Town Council
St Columb Major Town Council
St Blazey Town Council
St Ives Town Council
Camelford Town Council
Redruth Town Council
Schools that give parents the option of taking their children out of school for the day:
Falmouth Secondary School
Penryn Secondary School
Mylor Primary School
Mabe Primary School
Mawnan Smith Primary School
Flushing Primary School