Will St Piran’s Day become a Cornish national bank holiday?

A petition to Cornwall Council for St Piran’s Day, Gol Peran, the 5th March, to become a Duchy-wide official holiday was started by the Celtic League in February this year and has drawn nearly 8,000 signatures. It is under consideration by the Council. Many others have campaigned in recent years for the same thing.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has usually about 13 occasions when a public, or ‘bank’ holiday is taken.

These are holidays when banks, government services and many other businesses are closed for the day.

Some, such as Scotland’s key saints day – St Andrew’s Day on 30 November – are not celebrated in all parts of the state. An extra one was of course inserted for the recent royal family wedding in London.

It was reported in March this year that the Conservative-LibDem coalition government in Westminster wished to remove the ‘early’ May bank holiday (taken on May Day, 1st May) and replace it with a day later in the year (St George’s Day was one suggestion).

It would seem that the government is either focussed on getting their own holiday in better weather, or are under the impression that May Day, rather than being a very ancient day of spring festivities in the British Isles, owes more to the accretions of the last 100 years.

Previous to the May 2010 Westminster elections all five of Cornwall’s Members of Parliament were supportive of St Piran’s day becoming a public holiday. In 2006 MP Dan Rogerson asked the UK Government to make St Piran’s Day a public holiday in Cornwall.

A growing number of parish and town councils in Cornwall (eight at last count) and Cornwall’s only city council have previously agreed to make the 5th March a public holiday.

Many thousands now again celebrate Perrantide, and particularly so on 5th March, the feast day of the Cornish Celtic saint (often spelt Piran (in Kernewek, Peran Sans)) – not only in many areas of Cornwall but around the world.

Piran, one of hundreds of traditional Celtic saints of Cornwall, and the patron of tinners, has in the past few decades come to be held by Cornish people as their national saint and symbol, and his cross of St Piran as their national flag.

After approval by members of Cornwall council’s corporate resources overview and scrutiny committee the idea under consideration by Cornwall Council is  whether to recommend to the UK Government that should May Day be removed as an official bank holiday the 5th May, St Piran’s Day, become the Cornwall national public holiday.

It would be expected that Padstow and other places would continue an informal traditional celebration and local holiday for May Day.

Despite the usual suspects in the UK media, and curmudgeons among Cornwall Councillors, it is hoped that the Council will seriously consider the matter. Certainly many are working hard to ensure they do.

Those that bemoan Cornwall being on holiday when the ‘rest of the country’ (which country?)  is working away need to look up the list of bank holidays in the UK and note that 7 of the 13 are not taken in all parts.  No chaos now, so what makes Cornwall different?

The Westminster government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport have a consultation process and will make a decision over May Day early in 2012.

Cornwall24.net  26 July, 2011