Well, on 1st March, I promised you a month of blogs to celebrate Spring in beads. I felt I couldn’t miss out on the opportunity of celebrating Saints Days this month.
So, in the spirit of last week’s post, which looked at the traditions behind Mothering Sunday, let me share the traditions behind the March Saints’ Days. (Well, some of them anyway).
March 1st is St David’s Day. 17th March is St Patrick’s Day. And 5th March is St Piran’s Day. So, do you know what all these days have in common…?
The first thing those days have in common is that they each celebrate the Patron Saint of a part of the United Kingdom.
St David is Patron Saint of Wales, St Patrick is Patron Saint of Ireland. I expect you already knew that. But how many of you know that St Piran is Patron Saint of Cornwall? In fact, do you know anything much about Cornwall…?
So, I mentioned in my St Patrick’s Day Gift Box pattern that I have a little Irish blood in me. I have even more Cornish blood running through my veins!
Your quick guide to Cornwall…
Cornwall is the most South-Westerly county in England. So, it’s the tip of that little strip that sticks out at the bottom left of the country when you look at a map. It has just one land border, with the county of Devon. The River Tamar separates the two counties.
So, although Cornwall is ‘just another county’, it is also a fiercely proud and independent area with its own distinct ‘personality’. It has its own language (not widely used these days, although there is a campaign to reintroduce it). The county has also, at various points, talked of trying to claim independence from England. So, many Cornish folk regards themselves as a nation much as the Welsh or Irish.
You will find Cornish blood all over the world now. Mining was a huge part of the Cornish economy for centuries. When the tin and copper supplies in the county began to run out and mines closed, many miners took their skills to other mining districts around the world. I have relatives who emigrated to USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia and India.
So, St Piran is actually the Patron Saint of Tin Miners. The strength of the mining industry in this beautiful little county, may explain why he has also been adopted as the county’s Patron Saint.
What do these festivals have in common?
Well, as I’ve just explained, all three are about celebrating national pride. So in celebrating Saints days around the world, people are remembering their national roots.
They are also all Christian festivals. In each case, the date marks the death date of the Saint (so yes, these were real people!). They are acknowledged by the Christian church.
For some reason, celebrating Saints Days also seems to have to involve alcohol! So, traditionally, these would have been holidays. Workers were given the day off and Lent dietary restrictions were lifted. So, people sang, danced and ate.
Today, these traditions continue with parades and carnivals through the streets.
Celebrating Saints Days in Beads
How do you go about celebrating Saints Days with beads? Simple… make a beaded gift for someone! (Or yourself).
So, you need to know a bit about symbols. St David’s Day is usually symbolised by Daffodils and Leeks. St Patrick’s Day is green! Think Leprechauns, good luck charms and shamrocks.
St Piran’s day doesn’t have the same symbols, but it does have its own flag: a plain black background with a white cross (sitting in horizontal and vertical alignment, not diagonal). So, you will see the flag of St Piran flown in places all over Cornwall, and by Cornish folk living outside the county.
Well, you don’t have to be Welsh, Irish or Cornish to join in celebrating Saints Days. So, I’ve sprinkled this blog post with beading projects to help celebrate these festivals.
I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t published a Cornish beading pattern yet… So, I’m off to put that terrible omission to rights…!
And, if you want to share how you celebrate your Saints day, leave a comment below.