March 5, 2012 by Angela Boothroyd
Cornwall is a county in the South West of England, in the UK.
St Piran’s Day is Cornwall’s national day and it’s celebrated on the 5th March every year. St Piran is the national saint of Cornwall.
According to legend, St Piran was born in Ireland in the sixth century. The Kings of Ireland were suspicious of his miraculous powers so he was tied to a millstone and thrown over a cliff into the sea. St Piran survived, and he floated across the sea and landed on a beach on the coast of Cornwall.
St Piran preached Christianity and many Cornish people came to hear him speak. The remains of St Piran’s chapel is believed to be the oldest site of Christian worship in the British Isles.
St Piran is also the patron saint of tin miners and is said to have accidentally rediscovered tin smelting. A stone on his hearth leaked molten tin in the heat and formed a white cross on the black stone – this is origin of the Cornish flag with its white cross on a black background.
There are many celebrations for St Piran’s Day across Cornwall; including music, parades and fêtes. At the site of St Piran’s oratory (chapel) actors and musicians act out St Piran’s life story.
Cornish is a Celtic language (the others are Breton, Irish Gaelic and Scots Gaelic, Manx, Welsh).
It’s thought that the last native speaker of Cornish died in 1777. In recent years, people have been trying to revive the Cornish language and it’s now taught in schools, and used more and more in public life.
Cornish is recognized as a living minority language by the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
Here are some phrases in Cornish from the Cornish Language Partnership:
Dydh da! Hello!
Myttin da! Good morning!
Fatla genes? How are you?
Mar pleg Please
Meur ras Thank you
Penn-bloodh Lowen Happy Birthday!
Gool Peran Lowen! Happy St Piran’s Day!
Counties image © Paul Callan Cornish flag © Edward Webb
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