Heritage and Culture

St Piran's Day

St Piran's Day
By Sophie

In a sea of Black, white and gold, Cornwall locals and visitors alike will march together in a procession to celebrate St Piran. This traditional march, held annually on the 5th March, sees participants parade across the sand dunes to St Piran's Oratory, and the later medieval church, while songs and stories of the saint are performed at different points along the journey.

Who was St Piran?

Of all of Cornwall's saints, St Piran is, by far, the most well known and well loved. Renowned for his miraculous deeds and kind heart, he was a popular among the residents of, what is now, Cornwall.

Born in the 6th Century in Ireland, Piran soon made a name for himself, however he also made an enemy of the tribal kings of the time. Jealous and wary of St Piran's powers and influence, the kings put a millstone around his neck and threw him off the top of a cliff, into the sea. As St Piran fell, a storm raged on around him with terrifying thunder and lightning. Just as St Piran reached the water the storm ceased. As he resurfaced, legend has it that the Irish spectators watched him float towards the Cornish shore on top of the millstone. After many days at sea, St Piran landed on the coast line, now named after him, Perranporth.

After building a Chapel, it is said that his first converts were a fox, a badger and a boar. As news of his teaching spread, the Cornish people flocked to the chapel to observe Piran at work.

As St Piran is such a well-known saint, many places and churches around Cornwall and the rest of Britain bear his name. A notable chapel, worth a visit, is the medieval chapel of St Piran in Cardiff, Wales.

Although famous for his story to Sainthood, St Piran is the patron saint of Tinners. Legend has it that he discovered tin, although historical records show tin as having existed for centuries before Piran's time. This fact, however, didn't stop him from earning his title.

The term 'as drunk as a Perraner' is a commonly used expression in Cornwall and the surrounding area. We can thank St Piran for this term as he was well known for liking a drink and the local term has survived down the ages. It is also believed that he lived to the impressive age of 206, despite his love of alcohol.

St Piran's flag is the national banner of Cornwall. It features a white cross on a black background and is said to signify white tin coming out of black ore, as well as the light of truth shining out in the darkness. This second meaning is a reference to the early Celtic Christianity Piran brought to Cornwall.

Every year a large number of events, focusing on the culture and identity of Cornwall, are held to celebrate St Piran's Day. Although there is the traditional march, there are a number of other events to celebrate. In the week leading up to the 5th of March, large amounts of food and alcohol are consumed in what is known as 'Perrantide'. The concept is purely to celebrate the culture of Cornwall and what better way to do it than with a feast?

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From all of us, here at Scotweb, Happy St Piran's Day!