Why do Cornish folk get even more patriotic on St Piran’s Day? Well, Saint Piran was one of the patron saints of Cornwall; the patron saint of tin miners to be exact. St Piran’s flag is acknowledged as the national banner of Cornwall, with the white cross on a black background which is supposed to signify the white tin coming out of the black ore.
According to the legend, St Piran was born in Ireland in the 6th century and was famous for his miraculous deeds. A group of tribal kings who became jealous of his influence put a millstone around his neck and threw him off the top of a cliff into the sea. The Irish watched St Piran float on the millstone towards the Cornish shore. Legend aside, St Piran’s Day on the 5th of March is still an important day in the land of Kernow. Here’s why.
1.It’s a great excuse to indulge in the food we’re so proud of
This year, I began my own celebrations with a tasty saffron cake and made myself a nice cakey tea. I didn’t get a pasty until the day after, but I think this is still acceptable. Later in the evening, I enjoyed a few pints of Tribute ale – but more on this later. It’s also a great chance to sample cream teas, fudge, hevva cake, Cornish Fairings biscuits or perhaps even some Cornish pilchards or Stargazey pie. Proper job.
2.It reminds me to embrace the Cornish language and dialect
I like to throw in some Cornish slang words to my every day conversation every now and then; for example, ‘I’ll do it dreckly’, ‘I’m tired n teazy’, ‘it’s mizzley out’ etc. I’ve written another blog post about Cornish words and phrases that I tend to use, especially when talking to fellow Cornish pards and maids. Cornish slang words and dialect is one thing, but the Cornish language is important to us Cornish people, even though it’s not widely known. The best I did on St Piran’s Day was come downstairs in the morning saying, “Mytten da ha gool Perran lowen’ (good morning and happy St Piran’s Day.
Even my own surname, Easlick, was born in Cornwall. The name derived from Eastlake and had many other versions such as Eslick and Eastlack, but the Easlick version was first heard of in the Fowey area of Cornwall. There aren’t many of us in England now because most of them emigrated to places like Australia and Canada for mining purposes. Yet more for me to feel proud of! Cornish through and through.
3.It’s a great chance to celebrate our heritage
As I mentioned, I’m fiercely patriotic about being Cornish and am proud of my mining heritage. I’m obsessed with Poldark and am currently reading the books – it’s so interesting to think that my own ancestors worked down the mines. It was such a dangerous job and so many people died but really it was our livelihood – that and fishing. Mining has pretty much died out today but our brave fishermen still risk their lives all the time and I think it’s vital that we all show our support. Everyone can do their bit by buying a Sesalt Jute Bag which automatically donates money to The Fisherman’s Mission. We’re all janners down here (Proper noun. An English person born within ten miles of the sea. (UK, slang)) and the water is really an important part of our lives. The air ambulance and RNLI save people’s lives on a daily basis and I donate a little bit to them when I can as well.
4.It marks the beginning of Spring in our beautiful county
Most of the St Piran’s Day celebrations involve being outdoors, for example the parade through the city of Truro and the reenactment on Perran Sands, Perranporth. This year was a blustery day full of showers, which is typical of the 5th of March, but we are all looking forward to the longer evenings and warmer days ahead. I think it also helps to remind us how lucky we are to live in such a stunning county where you can get in your car and be by the sea in a matter of minutes. Bliss.
5.The whole county unites for the Trelawny shout
What could be more magical than yelling the Cornish anthem at the top of your lungs along with hundreds of other Cornish nutters?! The Trelawny shout takes place at 9pm every St Piran’s Day and I am ashamed to say that this year was the first year I participated in it. I went to the Copley Arms with mum to give it a go. It was absolutely brilliant – what an atmosphere to be part of! Before the main event, the Halfway Harmony singers (part of the Rame Peninsula Male Voice Choir) serenaded us over pints of Tribute to much-loved Cornish songs such as White Rose and Lamorna. Then after a countdown to 9 o’clock our voices united with all those others around the county. Here’s a little snippet: