Saint Piran’s Day or the Feast of Saint Piran is the national day of Cornwall, held on 5 March every year.
The day is named after one of the three patron saints of Cornwall, Saint Piran who is also the patron saint of tin miners. The other two are Saint Michael and Saint Petroc. St Piran was born in Ireland in the 6th century. After studying the scriptures in Rome he returned to Ireland and was made a Bishop.
He was said to have performed many miracles in Ireland, for example raising soldiers from the
dead. But the Kings of Ireland at the time were not impressed with his actions. It is reported that St Piran was flung into the sea on the Irish King’s orders. He had a millstone around his neck but miraculously he floated across the water to sandy shores of Perranzabuloe in Perranporth. It was here that he built a small chapel amongst the sand dunes.
People would come from miles around to hear him preach there. One evening, his followers had gathered around a fire to listen to Saint Piran when he saw a
rock glowing. He hit it with his staff and silver liquid poured out in the form of a cross. St Piran had discovered tin, but quite by accident. This white cross on a black background became the Cornish Flag, the flag of St Piran. White represents the tin flowing from the black rock, or good overcoming evil.
The modern observance of St Piran’s day 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.
There is little description of specific traditions associated with this day apart from the consumption of large amounts of alcohol and food during ‘Perrantide’.
St Piran’s Day is dedicated to enjoying all things Cornish – from pasties to cream teas and saffron cake – with many people choosing to wear the colours of black, white and gold or wave flags.
Almost every Cornish community holds some sort of celebration to mark the event and Saint Piran’s flag is also seen flying throughout Cornwall on this day.
St Piran’s Day is also the last day of Cornish Pasty week. Our pledge was to donate 5p from every pasty sold during Cornish Pasty Week to Devon & Cornwall Food Action (DCFA) to help alleviate food poverty.
We will be crunching numbers after the celebrations and keep you posted of how many pasties were eaten during this week!