04 March 2012

5 March - Saint Piran

Weather – There will be heavy rains on the first Monday in March.


This is the feast of Saint Piran or Peran, patron of tinners and tin-miners, and one of the patron saints of Cornwall.  Like St. David’s day for the Welsh, this is a day when Cornish the world over celebrate their heritage.

Flag of St. Piran

Tradition says that St. Piran was an Irishman, who, after feeding ten chieftains and their armies and restoring many of the fallen warriors to life, was rewarded as follows:

“On a boisterous day, a crowd of the lawless Irish assembled on the brow of a beetling cliff, with Piran in chains.  By great labour they had rolled a huge millstone to the top of the hill, and Piran was chained to it.  At a signal from one of the kings, the stone and the saint were rolled to the edge of, and suddenly over, the cliff into the Atlantic.  The winds were blowing tempestuously, the heavens were dark with clouds, and the waves white with crested foam.  No sooner was Piran and the millstone launched into space, than the sun shone out brightly, casting the full luster of its beams on the holy man, who sat tranquilly on the descending stone.  The winds died away, and the waves became smooth as a mirror.  The moment the millstone touched the water, hundreds were converted to Christianity who saw this miracle. “

The millstone, instead of sinking, acted as a flotation device, and on this St. Piran cruised to the northwestern coast of Cornwall, where he established an oratory and preached amongst the Cornish people for many years.

He is said to have rediscovered the lost art of tin-smelting (when the ore in his overheated black hearthstone leaked out and rose to the top in the form of a cross) and to have passed on this knowledge to his neighbors as a way for them to make a living.  For this, he was much esteemed and venerated by the tinners and miners, and his day celebrated with such gusto that subsequently anyone unable to keep between the ditches (as it were) on the way home was labeled a ‘Perraner’.

The webpage An-Daras lists events that are being held in Cornwall for St. Piran-tide, if you a lucky enough to be there.  Here in the US, Grass Valley in California holds a St. Piran’s Day celebration.  The Southwest Wisconsin Cornish Society wisely holds their festival in August (right about now, there is usually a goodly amount of snow).

And today, one should enjoy a bottle of Skinner's St. Piran's Ale and a good Cornish pasty (which should weigh a couple of pounds; no wimpy turnovers here).  There are other recipes on that page, if a pasty doesn't float your millstone, like the Star Gazy Pie with the fish heads sticking out.  The Leeky Pie looks much more appetizing.

Omlowen dha bos!