‘Cornish Culture’ is a term that is used a lot in my job, a job where I come across Cornish Celebrations all the time.
I have to jump in quick and talk about Cornish-ness, I don’t really want to because I have never heard a truly satisfying definition.
Cornish people are officially recognised as a ‘National Minority under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities’. The British Government in Westminster has admitted that Cornish people are a ‘National Minority under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities’.
Which is nice.
I am not going to offer a definition of ‘Cornish’. Whatever Westminster considers the legal status, I doubt it will stop people saying you are not proper Cornish until you have three generations in the graveyard at Trewellard.
Not everyone has three generations in the graveyard anywhere in Cornwall.
Some people put the jam and cream in the wrong order.
Some people don’t like pasties.
None the less, many people are from here, they live here and if questioned they will admit they are not from anywhere else, that they are by choice, birth, inclination or default ‘Cornish’.
Personally, I am not from anywhere else and when I heard the news I have to say I sat for several minutes and shed a little tear. This is just one step, one piece of the picture that makes up the future of Cornwall and I hope it brings Cornwall a little bit closer to pulling itself out of the financial place it has been in for so long. Perhaps a legal status will instil a greater need for change. I really hope it is the beginning of something important, joyful and celebratory.
It certainly is for me.
This official legal status for Cornwall is one that has been discussed a lot and this is one step closer to illuminating what may or may not be going on. It has been somewhat contentious in the past but now the National Minority status officially indicates there may be a Nation in discussion. In truth Cornwall has stronger legal rights to be considered a separate ‘Nation’ than Wales or Scotland. As the Prince of Wales, Charles has no Sovereign rights. As the Duke of Cornwall, Charles does have Sovereign rights. This is because Wales is subject to an act of union with England and Cornwall is not. Essentially, if Alex Salmond had lived in Cornwall he would not necessarily have had to use a referendum to get the answer to his question about Scotland. He could just use a good lawyer.
There is of course the ugly spectre of Cultural Thuggism that rears it’s head whenever discussions of Nation and Patriotism are brought up.
I hope Cornwall is big enough to walk on by.
Anyhow, all this is not getting us any closer to celebrating.
We have lot to celebrate in Cornwall and the wealth of community events around the Duchy is staggering. I have a file of 541 festivals and celebrations and those are only the ones I know about.
It’s easy to see why though. People pay good money to take a holiday in Cornwall and we get it all on our doorstep every day. If that’s not a good reason to celebrate I don’t know what is.
Brave storyteller Will Coleman strides, pipes, drinks and rows his way across Kernow, welcoming Spring, celebrating Summer, from Helston Flora to Padstow May Day, St Just Lafrowda to Saltash Regatta, telling Cornish creation tale the Horn Of Plenty. Film by Awen Productions.