Folk Lore



Folk Lore is a body of the collected beliefs, customs, superstitions and traditions of a people orally passed on from one person to the next and usually generation to generation. It may not be correct information but it is believed. It includes proverbs, sayings, oral tales, or old wives tales, traditions, dances, songs, customs, anecdotes, myths and legends. It is from folk lore that folk tales are derived. Robin Hood and Paul Bunyan would be examples of folk heroes and part of the folklore in Great Britain and the United States, respectively.
A Folk Tale or Tales are narratives and or written accounts based on oral traditions which relate a story indigenous to the area, either local or at the national level. It is steeped in the heritage and culture of the region. 
Folk Lore has many derivatives, the Myth, the Fable and the Legend. It is often difficult to discern the subtleties amongst these. However, I shall try to do so, Now.

Human Myth by Amy Brown

Amy Brown's Human Myth

 A Myth, derived from the greek word "Muthos" meaning story, is a collection of legends based on imaginary or fictitious things, persons or events. It usually concerns heroes and quests of epic proportions. It is something unproven in fact, we like to believe in even though we know it is false and is told to explain or justify an event, person, or a social institution. Myths are fanciful falsehoods! Robin Hood and his Adventures in Sherwood Forest, and King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table are examples of Myths, they being collections of stories based on the legend of each.

Fables are short parables or narratives told in verse or prose which comment on the human condition. They usually have a hidden message or moral and are of an allegorical nature. The characters are not intended to be perceived as individuals but rather as symbols, representative of a body of people, morals, ideals or an abstract thereof. The real story lies beneath what it appears to be on the surface. Aesop's Fables and Uncle Remus are the best examples of the Fable. George Orwell's "Animal Farm" is an example of an allegorical story and though not a short parable, but, rather a long narrative, comments on the human condition with each animal representing an ideology or character trait.

A Legend is a traditional, non-historical story or stories based on the real world, handed down one generation to the next as if it were historical fact but, can not be authenticated as such. The populace however, accepts these as historical truths germane to a particular people, locale or nation. The person who is at the center of these stories is thus a legend with a character usually of admirable qualities. Robin Hood, King Arthur, Davy Crockett and William Tell are all legends.

Next: Fairytales and the Realm of Fantasy
On to Fairy Tales and the Realm of Fantasy 


Folk Lore Index (a work in progress)


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