ST PIRAN’S DAY AND MOVABLE FEASTS

22 February 2012

Another petition bites the dust. The petition for a holiday on March 5, St Piran’s day, on Cornwall council’s website had 312 named signatures when it closed after a year earlier this month. This result suggests that there is no tsunami of demand.

Cornwall Council agreed at its 29 November 2011 meeting to tell the government that it thinks any replacement of May Day holiday, which the government is thinking about, should in Cornwall be a holiday on St Piran’s day. The unimpressive results of the petition were given to councillors who agreed that the feasibility of a test of the views of the people of Cornwall on the issue should be looked at but there will be a cost to that if it goes ahead.

I’m unclear whether any Piran holiday in Cornwall would be on March 5 or on, say, the nearest Monday to March 5. That would affect the spending results of a change which I think are overstated.

I am pragmatic about public holidays. It really does not matter on what day a holiday is celebrated. No one knows for sure when Piran died, or whether he ever lived. Or St George. It doesn’t matter either. We can cheerfully choose a day when the weather is likely to be sunny and dry and make it a countrywide bank holiday. We can each decide what we individually will call it: St George’s day, St Piran’s Day, May Day, all of them or whichever we wish; we don’t all have to celebrate the same thing. Even if there is a shift to October and the anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar, those who wish can celebrate it as St Piran’s day. These celebratory days really are human constructs like the calendar. In 1752 in England September 2 was followed immediately by September 14.

We already do this. Pragmatically we tend to shunt celebratory or commemorative days to the weekend or a Monday; and since the beginning of the twentieth century the British monarch has had an official birthday in June when the weather is likely to be kind: that’s very sensible.

Ah, sensible. I fear we might not do sensible in Cornwall.

Meeting of Cornwall Council on 29 November 2011 that considered the March 5 holiday request

Minutes of the 29 November 2011 meeting of Cornwall Council


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