St Piran’s Day. 5th of March.

March 5, 2014 by The Co-op Observer Classic Cornish Mining Scene, Crown Mines.

March is the time of the Celtic saints’ days, with the Welsh St David’s Day today, Saturday 1st March and the Cornish St Piran’s Day (Goal Peran in Cornish) on the 5th.

St Piran’s is commemorated today, on the Saturday preceding the actual day, in many towns across Cornwall in particular at Redruth and Perranporth, but also in Truro, Bodmin, Launceston and Penzance.

Redruth was the centre of the Cornish tin mining industry and its now a UNESCO world heritage site too. As St Piran’s was a miner’s holiday it stands to reason that the centre of the industry should celebrate in the biggest style, there’ll be street processions during the day, a real ale festival and even the St Piran’s Day Sausage Fayre! The town will be awash with the St Piran’s flag, the adopted flag of Cornwall, and you can be sure that there’ll be much drinking and eating of pasties too.

If ever there was a national dish for Cornwall then it would have to be the Dutchy’s favourite export, the pasty. Though what goes into your pasty is a hotly disputed topic. For heaven’s sake, folk can’t even agree what to call some of the ingredients, for what the rest of Britain calls a swede, is called a turnip in Cornwall, and vice versa. And then the next disputed topic is how to crimp the thing (that is, bring it all together). The neat pastry join sometimes goes around the edge, sometimes over the top, and sometimes half way between the two. This might not matter to the rest of Britain – but it sure is important in Cornwall.

The other place I mentioned, Perranporth is significant for the saint’s day too – after all it even bears his name. It was at Perranporth that he was said to have come ashore, floating on his unlikely craft – the millstone that he was cast into the Irish Sea with in an attempt by Irish kings to rid themselves of this holy man who they saw as a threat. At Perranporth there’ll a procession to St Piran’s oratory in the sand dunes where his story will be read to all.

Old Piran is believed to have liked a tipple or two himself, and so he’d probably not frown too badly on the behaviour of many of the Cornish in celebrating his day today.

Right on! (as they say in the far west).

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