Saturday, March 05, 2011

Lowen dydh sen Pyran (Happy St Piran's Day!)

Happy St Piran's Day. Yes, even to you miserable killjoys in Westminster.

It's March 5th St Piran's Day, the closest the Cornish people have to a national day. Although it's not recognised in Westminster, it means the same to the Cornish as St Patrick does to Ireland (and the Isle of Man), St David to Wales, St Andrew to Scotland and, I presume, St George to England. It's not so much to do with saints or religion or anything like that. It's all to do with pride in where you come from.

I've never really understood Westminster's reticence in allowing public holidays. Why not celebrate being English on St George's Day? Isn't that something to be proud of? And why not let Wales have their national day as a holiday? No one could argue that Wales is different to England. It's defined by geography, language and culture. It even has its own Assembly these days. They asked that St David's Day should be a bank holiday but Westminster said no. Why? I don't get it. Would it really do any harm? There is a gaggle of bank holidays in August so why not move one of them? And I reckon it would be good for the economy too. Just look at how big St Patrick's Day has become.

Cornwall has also asked that St Piran's Day be a holiday with similar dismissal. I realise that Cornwall is just one county. However, It was once much larger, encompassing much of Devon and some of Somerset. It had a king and national boundaries. And, like Wales, Scotland and Ireland, it spoke a language that was not English. It was, and is, very different to anywhere else in the UK and Cornish people are fiercely loyal to their Duchy.

I'm not some rabid nationalist. I have no illusions that Cornwall will ever be seen as a separate country ever again. However, I cannot see what harm there is in allowing the Cornish a holiday to celebrate who they are and where they're from. Or the Welsh. Or, indeed, any other defined group in the UK such as Geordies, Liverpudlians etc. Most regions have a patron saint, did you know that? Wiltshire has St Osmund, Oxfordshire has St Frideswide and Berkshire has St Birinus, just a pick a few from around where I currently live. Surely one day a year to celebrate local pride isn't going to bugger the economy any more than Westminster and the bankers have. And won't it be good for tourism? For Cornwall, being the poorest county in the UK, I can't help feel that making the whole thing a massive event would be a massive boost for the local economy. Come on Westminster ... stop being such spoilsports.

anyway, happy St Piran's Day to Cornish men and women the world over. Have a pasty and a drink for me.

2 comments:

Just zis Guy, you know? said...

You raise an interesting point: where can one get a decent pasty these days? Outside of Cornwall, I mean.

Chris Hale said...

You are, of course, absolutely right. As usual. Why shouldn't the separate nations of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland be allowed to celebrate their own saints days? Not sure how it would go down with some atheists; perhaps they'd just be happy to have a day off work. It does seem odd that the most widely (and wildly) celebrated is St. Patrick. I suspect it's got a lot to do with the marketing of Guinness and Irish whiskey. Perhaps Cornwall could come up with some lucrative brew or distilled liquor, and then maybe St. Piran would make it to the big time. I vote they big up Spingo, and I'm pretty sure the Blue Anchor could distil the stuff as well, then we'd all be choughed to bits!