44 votes

What is the world's oldest joke?

According to Paul McDonald at the University of Wolverhampton, it's this 3900-year-old one, from 1900BC in Sumeria: Something which has never occurred since time immemorial: a young woman did not ...
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  • 480
17 votes

Did the word "fairies" originate after the creation of stories about fairies?

Since this is more a philological question, I'm going with this somewhat different take on the matter from noted philologist J.R.R. Tolkien: Fairy, as a noun more or less equivalent to elf, is a ...
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16 votes
Accepted

What is the relationship between werewolves and vampires in Balkan folklore?

The reason the same term was end up using for two creatures, which were very different, was because they were connected. But not in a sense of family ties. source: pg 800, The Vampire Book: ...
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  • 3,403
15 votes
Accepted

What is the meaning of not giving clothes to supernatural helpers?

The following quotes are taken from Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns and Goblins - An Encyclopedia, by Carol Rose (highly recommended). In the entry for Brownies: Families were proud of their ...
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  • 2,433
14 votes
Accepted

How was Guan Yu deified?

It actually was a gradual process. It was primarily driven by his personal popularity in a society where ancestor worship has long been an integral element. Moreso than his fame as a general, his ...
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  • 7,626
13 votes
Accepted

Did the word "fairies" originate after the creation of stories about fairies?

The Old English word for fairies is elf (Online Etymology Dictionary): “one of a race of powerful supernatural beings in Germanic folklore,” Old English elf (Mercian, Kentish), ælf (Northumbrian), ...
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13 votes
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Where does the story of selling one's soul to the devil first occur in Christian myth?

The story of Theophilus of Adana, who died in the 6th century CE, is indeed the first documented story of a pact of this type: The subject of the first recorded story of a pact with the devil, ...
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11 votes

What are the origins of the snowman?

Snowmen were a phenomenon in the Middle Ages, built with great skill and thought. At a time of limited means of expression, snow was like free art supplies dropped from the sky. It was a popular ...
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  • 1,260
10 votes

Do Welsh fairies marry human women?

I haven't been able to find any reference for fairy men marrying human women, or the existence of full-sized fairy men at all. Note that the Tylwyth Teg only ever kidnapped human boys, not girls. This ...
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  • 4,399
10 votes

What are the origins of the snowman?

Bob Eckstein is the author of a the book The History of the Snowman. In the book, he says that the first documentation of a snowman that he found was in 1380 in an illuminated manuscript, where he ...
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  • 2,844
10 votes
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Zombies and ways of stopping them?

Jiang Shi meaning "Stiff Corpse" is a kind of zombie from Chinese Mythology. The Jiang Shi can be stopped by throwing rice or coins on the ground, as they will not pursue their target until they ...
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  • 3,992
9 votes
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Does Pippi Longstocking have mythological roots?

Explicitly, no. (I will have to start by apologising, as I will only quote sources in Swedish for this). Vivi Edström, in Vildtoring och lägereld, analyses several of Lindgren's books. A lot of ...
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  • 5,986
8 votes
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What was the first example of a "Only true love can awake" in folklore?

Yes, the Grimm brothers tale is based on earlier works and folklore. As a rule, the Grimm brothers fairy tales were all existing folk tales. The Sleeping Beauty (which I'm focusing on instead of Snow ...
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  • 9,108
8 votes

What is the oldest traditional children's game?

I'M GONNA SAY SENET The games that kids played included a game like checkers as well as Senet and their game pieces were made of small stones and knucklebones (which were really sheep ankle bones). ...
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  • 443
8 votes

Where does the story of selling one's soul to the devil first occur in Christian myth?

It appears the Theophilus of Adana is, indeed, the first known instance of this myth. Dating the origin of the myth was a bit harder for me to establish. It is claimed to have been written by ...
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  • 9,108
8 votes
Accepted

What is a Planetnik?

This is the abstract a paper published in an (apparently) respectable academic journal (2010): the russian original 'planetnik' is rendered as 'hobgoblin': In the regions of Orawa and Podhale, ...
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  • 96
8 votes
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Were the grottoes of the Mitcham Fair in South London really connected with the veneration of St. James of Compostela?

Image taken from Chambers' book of Days. The calendar of liturgical feasts or celebrations may have different dates of celebration for a particular saint or mystery. These differences may be due ...
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  • 2,844
7 votes

Are vampires called anything else in European folklore?

In Romanian language you will come across the term Moroi who translates roughly as "dead nightmare". Another such term is Strigoi. These terms are used by many modern authors who want to present a ...
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  • 289
7 votes

Does any folklore of Pictish origin survive in Britain or Ireland?

Actual folklore is stuff folk still say & do. It can be very hard to establish the origins of folkloric material. The linguistic connection is probably your best bet. You might find this book ...
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  • 318
7 votes

How old is the belief that spilling salt is unlucky and should be followed by throwing a pinch of salt over the shoulder?

Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable claims the superstition dates to the Romans, when salt was used in sacrifices and spilling it from the head of the victim would be considered a bad omen: ...
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  • 9,108
7 votes
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Are there parallels between Ymir/Auðumbla and Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox besides the obvious?

In a sense - but while Bunyan and Babe actively change the landscape, Ymir is chopped up by others (Odin & Co) to make the world. Both Bunyan and Ymir are associated with cold - PB with the "blue ...
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  • 5,818
7 votes
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Are there any stories that present solar eclipses as a good sign?

It is true that the vast majority of solar eclipse folklore, myths and superstitions are looked upon in less than favorable light. Throughout history, solar eclipses have been viewed with dread ...
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  • 2,844
7 votes
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Cows adapted to life on a steep hillside

I think the animal is a sidehill gouger. Sidehill gougers are North American folkloric creatures adapted to living on hillsides by having legs on one side of their body shorter than the legs on the ...
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  • 1,260
7 votes

Are there any elf like creatures in non-European folklore?

There really aren't any that I can find. Elf-like creatures are pretty stricly Germanic, however there is the duende. A duende is a fairy- or goblin-like mythological creature from Iberian, South ...
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  • 1,260
7 votes
Accepted

Crystal taped to radiator?

There are many myths surrounding crystals. They are held by many to be capable of channelling positive energy and so promoting health and wellbeing. Your picture looks like quartz. Quartz in ...
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  • 1,055
6 votes
Accepted

What is the folkloristic origin of cats having 9 lives?

It may not be possible to trace the exact origins of the phrase that a cat had nine lives. Nevertheless there are a few sources from which we can find a possible origin of cats having nine lives. ...
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  • 2,844
6 votes
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Twice a bridesmaid, never a bride?

From what I gather, the origin is uncertain, but it seems common sense that "if association with a bride and the high profile of the day did not attract a husband after two opportunities, then perhaps ...
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  • 551

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