How to Celebrate St Piran’s Day

February 26th, 2019

St Piran’s Day is almost upon us, so we’re here to tell you all about the history of the celebrations and to take a look at some of the events taking place throughout Cornwall!

What is St Piran’s Day?

St Piran’s Day is the national day for Cornwall and is celebrated on the 5th March each year. Named after Saint Piran, one of the patron saints of Cornwall and of tin miners, the day began as a holiday for, and observed by, Cornish tin miners. The day became a national day in the late 19th Century as a way to celebrate the county in a similar way that other nations do. Since the 1950’s, St Piran’s Day as a celebration has taken-off increasingly, with almost every community in Cornwall hosting events, such as parades, to mark the occasion. Several towns and cities in Cornwall, including Truro, Bodmin and St Ives, allow their staff a day off for the day so that they can properly celebrate! It is also widely believed that St Piran’s Day marks the beginning of spring.

Who was Saint Piran?

As the story goes, Saint Piran was originally an Irish abbot in the 5th century, who was tied to a millstone and thrown into the sea, possibly under orders of the King, who had become wary of his powers. Miraculously, Piran made it to Perranporth on the Northern coast of Cornwall, where he built an oratory to promote Christianity. Local legend says that his first disciples were a badger, bear and fox (so some Cornish children often dress as such animals for the parades). Piran became the Saint of tin-miners, as well as of Cornwall, when he noticed some black rocks smelting by his fire, and discovered white tin pouring out from it. This is where the St Piran’s flag comes from, with the black background as the rock, and the white cross as the tin.

So how do you celebrate the day?

Perrantide

While St Piran’s Day is celebrated on the 5th March, the festivities actually commence around a week before, usually on the 28th February, as ‘Perrantide’. This week is indulgently filled with everything Cornish, from an abundance of pasties to a glass too many of Cornish cider – it’s bound to be a good time! Activities and events leading up to the big day will be hosted in many towns at this time.

Clothing

To celebrate the day, you may want to dress up in the colours of St Piran; black, white and gold. The black and white parts of this are the most important aspects, as this mirrors the Saint Piran’s flag; black background with a large white cross. There is also a traditional Cornish tartan that many people wear on this day.

Parades

Parades are a big part of the St Piran’s festivities, with one taking place in many of the towns throughout the county. Here, local children, choirs and community members will join the parade led by the Cornish flag (also known as the St Piran’s flag!), as a way of celebrating the day, and all that is Cornish! Three of the biggest parades will be taking part in Perranporth, Redruth, and Truro:

Perranporth Parade

Taking place on the Sunday before St Piran’s Day, Sunday 3rd March, the Perranporth Parade will journey across the dunes of Perranporth beach to the old church and oratory. The parade will gather at 1.30pm, to begin at 2pm, and be led by ‘St Piran and his animals’, accompanied by the Falmouth Marine Band. St Austell Brewery will be at the event handing out samples, which should make for a lively procession! Following the parade, The Two Bards will be performing at the Sand Bay bar, providing some Cornish entertainment.

Truro Parade

On St Piran’s Day, Tuesday 5th March, the parade in Truro will be leaving at 1pm from St George’s Road. You are welcome to join the parade, or simply to observe – St Piran himself may even be spotted! At the parade’s conclusion, the White Hart Inn will be hosting a Cornish Troyl, or singaround, event to celebrate the day, which will commence at 2.30pm. In the evening, the Ale House will be putting on a St Piran’s themed folk session at 7.30pm.

Redruth Parade

The Redruth parade will be held on Saturday 2nd March, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the festivities before the working week starts again! The parade will commence at noon; however, there will be activities going on throughout the day from 10am til 3pm. As well as street entertainment there will be a Cornish market where you can find some delightful local crafts and produce, among other items. There will also be a display of classic cars, making this a great way to spend the day while celebrating Cornish heritage.

Plays

As a way to commemorate the day, many communities will be putting on a play on the 5th March about the life of Saint Piran. While many towns will be hosting such a play, one of the biggest will be performed in Perranporth, the town in which St Piran was said to have first arrived in Cornwall.

Trelawny Shout

At 9pm on St Piran’s Day, those taking part in the celebrations will participate in the ‘Trelawny Shout’, especially if they are enjoying the festivities in a pub! The Trelawny Shout is a sing-along in bars all throughout Cornwall, that includes a number of popular Cornish bar songs. Most notably, the Cornish Anthem, ‘The Song of the Western Men’, will be sung. This tradition is actually quite recent, only having started a few years ago, but it has taken on as a great way to both honour St Piran and celebrate all that Cornish culture and community has to offer.

If you would like to take part in these festivities, then it’s not too late to book a luxury Cornish cottages holiday with us here at The Valley!