Questions tagged [folklore]

For questions on the traditional beliefs, customs and stories of a community or culture.

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What are the earliest and latest reference of black dog apparitions in folklore?

I'd like to know what is the earliest reference for Black Dogs such as Black Shuck, Hairy Jack, Barghest, etc. Is there anything before the 1577 Black Shuck of Blythburgh in worldwide folklore? And ...
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Way to measure the probability a story evolving in a given culture

I am wondering if there exists a way to get a numerical estimate of the probability of whether or not a given society will evolve a story with certain characteristics within a certain amount of time. ...
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Is it sound to acdemically analyse myth in translation? (An Táin Bó)

I am working on my dissertation on An Táin Bó Culaigne. I (sadly) can't work from the Old Irish text but am relying on using translation to explore a point I am making about Early Irish society. Is ...
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The unreadable book: Voynich manuscript?

What are, if any, the most plausible mythical origins and legends surrounding the unreadable book also known as the Voynich manuscript? What do legends, folklore or myths have to say as to what is ...
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Do there exist any spells or ritual things / chants in Old Norse, Old Irish, or Old English online in text format?

I have found the voluspa and other large Old Norse texts. Then there's Beowulf. I've seen several Old Irish poems as well. But what about spells and magic? Do there exist any of those online in the ...
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Estonian folklore

In the Estonian folklore Pisuhand, Kratt and Puuk are all household spirits who steal grain and milk for whomever’s house they dwell in. They are described as a goblin or dragon and are an old ...
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Koschei's Sleeping/Petrification Spell Area

In the Russian folk tale of “Ivan Sosnovich”, it says that the evil Koschei the Deathless put an entire kingdom to sleep (or petrified) bia a spell after killing two of the three beauties he heard ...
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Do European folklore creatures, like ogres, brownies, fairies,goblins etc. have characteristics attributed to anti-semitism?

These creatures mentioned in the title have characteristics (any, such as traits, costumes, behavior, etc.) attributed to anti-semitism by antisemitic people (or have their origins rooted in this)?
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Are there myths that contains the concept that people with triple iris eyes are psychic or clairvoyant?

I have heard that those with triple iris eyes were said to be psychic, clairvoyant, etc. Is this true if so in what myths does this concept appear.
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Is there a folklore belief that the spirit of a wolf comes back to avenge its death?

Isidoros Zourgos in his novel "Στην σκιά της πεταλούδας" mentions that if you kill a wolf, the animal's spirit will come back and kill you after forty days. The origin of the belief is assumed to be ...
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were witches in northern England more common?

Were witches in northern England more common than in other parts of the U.K. I read about Pendle Hill and it seems so .
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What is the origin of legend of Alderley Edge?

What is the legend of Alderley Edge, in northern England? Are there other legends, folk tales, from this area?
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How do I analyze a mythology?

[Sorry if this question isn't specific or not very legitimate. I've only been in this site for a while.] I've been getting into religion and mythology lately. I've been wondering, how do I analyze a ...
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When did chicken become a synonym of cowardice?

Chicken is often used to mean someone is a coward. This is exemplified in the game of chicken. When did chicken first become a synonym of cowardice?
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What is the source of the belief that the seventh son of a seventh son is a clairvoyant?

The Iron Maiden song Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was inspired - according to Steve Harris - by the folklore belief that the seventh son of a seventh son has clairvoyant powers: “I just had a ...
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Is there a culture that celebrates day of birth, day of conception?

Is there any culture that celebrates the day of conception instead of the tipical birthday we enjoy in occidental countries? It would be a more exact event in some ways, imho.
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Is there a similar folklore/parable in American/Western/European culture to the East Asian (Chinese?) parable on a Fox and a Tiger?

The Chinese/East Asian parable on a fox and a tiger goes like the following A fox asking to be walking in front of a tiger brags about being a fearsome animal and exudes borrowed confidence from ...
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What is the specific term for those creatures that exist because people believe in them?

So recently i have seen in films and series about this oddities that exist in our reality because people believe in them. Something that exist because of the collective imagination from people that ...
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Where do Leprechauns live?

Like, when they aren't dragging people into the sea or granting wishes. The wikipedia article doesn't describe in much detail about where they reside. Holes? Mountain Tops? Tiny Cottages?
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What is the origin of these creatures in Appalachian folklore?

My family (for these intents and purposes) comes from the mountains of Appalachian southern Virginia. The older folks told tales of three specific monsters as warning against wayward children ...
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Who is Ashirah in Hebrew mythology?

When I heard about the myth regarding Asherah as God’s “wife”, it started to appear some questions which I’d like to ask because I could not find the answers I’m looking for. Here is a list questions: ...
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Myths/folktales/fairytales of areas/buildings/objects that disappear and reappear at fixed intervals?

I remember back when I was young that I saw an episode of Smurfs featuring a castle that disappears and reappears each few centuries and when, more recently, I thought about the whole concept of ...
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What are the supernatural properties of gold in mythology and folklore?

I would like to research the supernatural properties and/or uses that gold shows in mythologies and/or folklore. I am not talking about the properties or abilities of specific artifacts made of gold ...
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How did you survive my 100-step punch?

I remember from long ago a story about a martial artist, The Bully, who was renowned for his "100-step punch": if he lands the blow, you will die after taking 100 steps. One day another martial ...
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Folktales or Fairy Tales in Native Language (if any exist anywhere)

Wondering what the languages are where there do exist resources of folktales / fairy tales written down in the native language. I think I may have found some in Celtic here, such as this: I am not ...
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Any ancient myths/folklore/tales/etc. about extraterrestrial voyages/beings/people or even about voyages towards earth?

Stories like the tale of the bamboo cutter that are about extraterrestrial beings who visit earth and either return to their place of origin or not. They can also be about people from earth visiting ...
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Zombies and stopping them?

I know that there’s a wide variety of zombies. Now my question is what are the versions of them & how are they stopped from attacking the living? Zombies are (now these days) concedered mindless ...
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What's the best way to go about researching obscure mythologies?

So basically, I want to learn more about Zulu (or possibly some other South African culture) polytheism, among other things. Trouble is, it's hard to find a lot information about it, even from ye olde ...
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Can Vampires Take Form of Nocturnal Animals?

In Bram Stoker's Dracula, it was hinted that he may have taken form of a bat while visiting the asylum inmate, Renfield. Is that possible? And could he take form of all the other animals, like wolves ...
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What do you call a human who can take energy from other living objects?

I'm not exactly sure what to think but after doing it so often I was just curious if there is a name? I've noticed that when I'm tired while say I'm at work I can place my palm to a tree and it begins ...
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Where does the personification of the River Thames as Old Father Thames originate?

I'v been doing some light research into the figure of Old Father Thames, he appears as the personification on the River Thames through the 18th to 20th centuries but seems to have lost popularity ...
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Where is the Ancient Greek belief of Pre-Existence referenced?

There's a Greek belief about choosing your parents, your life, and the problems in the world. As mentioned in this video. I'm trying to find the full story/myth. Where can I look? TEDxSinCity - Dave ...
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Why do ghosts mess with electricity?

The concept of ghosts (shades in the sense of spirits or phantoms) predates the understanding and harnessing of electricity by humans. But, in modern folklore and mythology electric lights often ...
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When was the first known account of the Tooth Fairy?

In some cultures, when a child loses a baby tooth they put it under their pillow for the Tooth Fairy to replace it during the night with a coin. In my experience, she is never seen or heard and she is ...
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What is the origin of the story that kefir grains were given to Orthodox Christians in the Northern Caucasus by the Prophet Mohammed?

Several websites (for example, here and here) report the story that kefir grains, which are used in the making of the fermented milk drink kefir, were given to Orthodox Christians in the Northern ...
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What is the origin of the 'Light' as a ghost?

As a ghost (or after death), it is popularly believed that you will see a light and that light will take you to the afterlife. Where, and/or when, does this 'light' emerge in folklore's history?
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What is the difference between a phantom and a ghost?

These are compared as such: a phantom is a ghost, but a ghost is not a phantom. The meaning of that is every phantom is a ghost, but phantoms have characteristics that prevents every ghost from being ...
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Why are the domains of sexuality and fertility commonly associated with battle & war?

For example, Semitic Astarte/Babylonian Ishtar, Hittite Shaushka, Slavic Radegast, Irish Anann, etc. In studying mythology and folklore, I can't help but notice that violence and sex are often ...
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What was the origin of the nursery rhyme “Don't care was made to care”?

Many a child who has expressed indifference has had the following verse spoken to them: Don’t care was made to care, Don’t care was hung: Don’t care was put in a pot And boiled till he was ...
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Did tales about a house made of sweets predate Hansel and Gretel?

Having heard the tale of Hansel and Gretel orally, the brothers Grimm published it in 1812. One of its most memorable themes is the witch's house made of sweets. Does such a theme predate this tale? ...
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When were “air quotes” first used?

When did speakers first draw in the air with their fingers to indicate that a word or phrase should be heard as if between quotation marks?
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What pagan or folk customs and beliefs relate to Pentecost (Whitsun)?

Whitsun, also called Whit Sunday and Pentecost, is the Sunday 49 days after the Christian festival of Easter and in the Gregorian calendar it falls on a date between 10 May and 13 June. What pagan or ...
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How are domovye (domestic spirits) experienced in Russian flats (apartments)?

In Russian culture, the domovoy (домовой) is a domestic house spirit. Traditionally he lives under the stove or threshold, in the cattle shed or in the stable. He is the home's guardian and if kept ...
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What connects the Welsh and English Gogmagog with the Hebrew Gog and Magog?

The guardian statues outside London's Guildhall, the building that houses the administration of the Corporation of the City of London, are known as Gog and Magog. Originally they were understood to be ...
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Which current cultures have April Fools' Day on 1 April?

I have come across descriptions of an April Fools' Day tradition in Britain, Ireland, Poland and Scandinavia. But it is not true to say it is western-wide because it is hardly known for example in ...
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What are the origins of April Fools' Day?

On April Fools' Day, 1 April, it's the custom in several cultures to play practical jokes and to spread hoax stories. Where and when did this custom originate?
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Were shaggy dog stories known before they got that name?

A shaggy dog story is a lengthy anecdote that induces an expectation of a surprising, amusing or otherwise memorable conclusion but which ends instead with a punchline that is utterly mundane or even ...
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Why is easter called 'easter'?

The Christian feast of 'easter' is based on the ancient Yewish religious feast (their main one), is widely spread and was linked to remember the 'Passion of Christ'. Recall that 'Christianity' started ...
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Where do Easter eggs come from?

In Christian cultures, many people give Easter eggs as presents at Easter. They can be painted chicken's eggs, or they can be chocolate. What are the origins of this practice as a Christian tradition?
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What is conveyed or connoted in the story that St Patrick banished snakes from Ireland, when in his time Ireland had no snakes?

According to tradition, St Patrick banished all snakes from Ireland. But it is thought that at least since the end of the last glacial period in about 9700 BCE, Ireland had no snakes. What is being ...