We’re rewarding the question askers & reputations are being recalculated! Read more.
40

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 fart in her husband’s lap. (I don't get it either!)


15

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 relatively modern word, hardly used until the Tudor period. The first quotation in the Oxford Dictionary (the only one before A.D. 1450) is significant. It is ...


15

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: The Encyclopedia of the Undead, J. Gordon Melton The reason to be believe so was because, the Slavs and Balkans believed that vampire was a stage that came ...


15

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 Brownies as they brought good fortune; to lose one was disastrous. [...] In general, the Brownie was the most industrious of the household spirits, ploughing, ...


14

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 personality traits (loyalty, bravery, honesty) appealed to traditional Chinese sensibilities. Among the general population, Liu Bei and Guan Yu have set a more ...


13

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), ylfe (plural, West Saxon) “sprite, fairy, goblin, incubus,” from Proto-Germanic *albiz (cognates: Old Saxon alf, Old Norse alfr, German alp “evil spirit, goblin,...


12

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, Theophilus of Adana humbly declined to become bishop of Adana, now in modern Turkey. Historical Dictionary of Witchcraft Eythichianus of Adana seems to have ...


11

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 activity for couples to stroll through town to view the temporary works of chilly art. Some were created by famous artists, including a 19-year-old Michelangelo, who ...


10

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 also notes building a snowman was a popular form of entertainment in the Middle Ages. The building of snowmen certainly began long before the 14th century. Both ...


9

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 seems to support this (emphasis mine): Mr. John Jones speaks very little English, and Mr. John Rees, of the Council School, acted as our interpreter. This ...


9

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 space is given to Pippi. The part that comes closest to the question is just one sentence: "That a child is stronger than an adult is a motif from myth", but she ...


8

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 White, since it contains the same key element, and it's easier) story derives directly from Charles Perrault's "Sleeping Beauty" (La Belle au bois dormant), ...


8

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, among the local elders, beliefs about hobgoblins , able to bring or mitigate thunderstorm, survived up to this day. The hobgoblins are supposed to travel on ...


8

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). They played a game something like ‘jacks’ and dice with these various game pieces. Kids also had toys to play with including clay rattles that were shaped like ...


8

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 either to a national, regional or other various liturgical "usages" which were permitted within the Roman Rite. Prior to the 1550s, in England, there was in use ...


8

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 have picked up all the grains of rice or coins, allowing the target to escape or can be "deactivated" by placing a sacred piece of paper/Taoist talisman ...


7

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 interesting, though it is concerned with archaeology & history for the most part. In Search of the Picts: A Celtic Dark Age Nation by Elizabeth Sutherland ...


7

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: Spilling salt was held to be an unlucky omen by the Romans, and the superstition remains to this day, though, with us, the evil may be averted if he who spills the ...


7

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. First of all, it may have an Egyptian (and thus the oldest believed) origin as the following statement reveals: The old belief that a cat has nine lives goes ...


7

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 winter" in North Dakota, while Ymir was the first frost-giant. (Prose Edda 18)


7

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 Eutychianus of Adana, but the claim seems questionable to me, and, I've come to find out, others as well. "A Dictionary of Christian Biography, Literature, Sects and ...


7

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 vampire-like-creature as something: undead, bloodthirsty, evil (so no Twillight for you). Example of these books are: Bloodlines, by Richelle Mead. The Strain, ...


7

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 and associated with myths and superstitions. Even today, in the 21st century, some cultures consider them a bad omen. It is not completely surprising that ...


7

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 opposite side. Your ties of it to Paul Bunyan are probably right because if you look here you can find an entry on a "Sidehill Dodger" which is another name ...


6

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 there was little hope" (Marriage Customs of the World 98). In terms of pinpointing the locale of the superstition, I believe that the modern use of ...


6

I picked up a copy of the Element Encyclopedia of Vampires for 4 bucks plus shipping for a reference on the book and I think it definitely would be handy if you do decide to go the vampire route in your book. It's 700 pages and has entries about everything from historical vampire panics to folklore all the way to vampires in tv and movies. Not everything ...


6

There appears to be a folk belief in Italy that "flowers planted during a solar eclipse are more colourful than those planted at other times of the year"1. I'm afraid that although there's a ton of references to this factoid I wasn't able to find more information on it. 1 Khomami, N. Solar eclipse 2015: what you need to know. The Guardian. Available at: ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible