Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

Questions tagged [folklore]

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

1
vote
0answers
30 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
95 views

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?
5
votes
0answers
82 views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
98 views

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.
4
votes
0answers
47 views

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 ...
6
votes
2answers
194 views

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 ...
6
votes
1answer
64 views

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?
8
votes
2answers
112 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
62 views

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: ...
4
votes
3answers
127 views

Stories of areas/buildings/objects that disappear and reappear during 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
131 views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
80 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
45 views

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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
89 views

Any ancient myths/folklore/tales/etc. about extraterrestrial voyages/people/beings?

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 ...
6
votes
1answer
140 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
99 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
89 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
100 views

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 ...
5
votes
0answers
192 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
73 views

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
750 views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
81 views

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 ...
5
votes
0answers
69 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
30 views

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?
3
votes
1answer
665 views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
92 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

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 ...
5
votes
2answers
673 views

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? ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

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?
6
votes
1answer
110 views

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
143 views

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 ...
2
votes
0answers
82 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
78 views

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 ...
3
votes
0answers
20 views

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?
4
votes
0answers
34 views

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 ...
8
votes
2answers
144 views

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 ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

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?
2
votes
2answers
103 views

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 ...
0
votes
1answer
53 views

What is the earliest known appearance of a hero's greatgrandparent in folklore?

What is the earliest known appearance of a hero's greatgrandparent in any genre of folklore? By that I mean where the hero's greatgrandparent is alive and interacts with the hero.
4
votes
1answer
90 views

Why do we wear green on St. Patrick's Day and get pinched if we don't?

Wearing green on St. Patrick's Day is a tradition. No questions asked, just do it, kinda thing. So, as I'm running away to ask this, in my green shirt (it says "WORLD'S TALLEST LEPRECHAUN), I came to ...
3
votes
0answers
20 views

What is the earliest known instance of the nursery rhyme “The House that Jack Built”?

What is the earliest known instance of the popular nursery rhyme "The House that Jack Built", which has verses of increasing length?
2
votes
1answer
2k views

What are the origins of the “okay” hand signal?

An "okay" hand signal is formed by making a circle with index finger and thumb while splaying the other fingers out, roughly upwards. What are its origins?
4
votes
0answers
119 views

How old is the legend that the insulting “V” sign was first used at or with reference to the Battle of Agincourt?

There is a legend that since bowmen captured by French forces sometimes had their bow-drawing fingers cut off, the English and Welsh longbowmen at the Battle of Agincourt, which an English army won in ...
3
votes
0answers
96 views

What is the oldest known story from the Paleolithic or Mesolithic, if any are known?

What is the oldest story known to have been told by people living a Palaeolithic or Mesolithic way of life, in other words who have not used metals such as copper, bronze or iron and who do not engage ...
14
votes
1answer
221 views

Pre-Tolkien Orcs in myths or folklore?

So what I'm trying to understand is what exactly pre-Tolkien orcs were like in regards to folklore. I understand that Tolkien has had a massive influence on how we conceptualize many creatures from ...
4
votes
0answers
97 views

What is the oldest known appearance of clairvoyance or telepathy in myth or folklore?

Clairvoyance is the sensing of an event, thought or fact by other means than the five physical senses; telepathy is the deliberate sending of a thought, feeling, knowledge or information using such ...
12
votes
1answer
212 views

Where did the notion the moon was made of cheese originate?

We've all at one point or another heard something about the moon being made of cheese- does anyone know where this myth got started?
38
votes
1answer
14k views

What is the world's oldest joke?

What is the world's oldest joke? I mean the earliest known story, set of affairs, or action that people spread to other people in order to cause the receivers to be amused.
4
votes
1answer
766 views

Historic-geographic spread and variations of the children's rhyme “My friend Billy had a 10-foot willy”

Around the turn of the 1970s a rhyme was sung by small children in southern England: My friend Billy had a 10-foot willy. He showed it to the girl next door (or: He put it through the neighbour's ...
3
votes
0answers
53 views

What is the provenance of the reindeer antlers that are used in the Abbots Bromley horn dance?

Every year in September a "horn dance" is held in the village of Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, England, a ceremony mentioned for example in J G Frazer's The Golden Bough. There are recorded ...