What is a legend in one time and place may be a myth in another time and place, a Märchen (or fairytale) in another time and place [and called religion in yet another time and place.] While there might be a lot of legend to this stories, there is also truth, it is up to you to find the nuances of a culture: Memory, Modernity and Identity in them.

In this Article

By telling stories from our communities, and delving into the stories and traditions of other cultures, we can explore the similarities that run through cultures, and learn to appreciate people in all of their glorious humanity, each one of us a melting pot of traditions, stories, and folk + lore things that make us wonderfully unique.

EarthstOriez is an attempt to share and preserve stories – history, mythology and folklore.



Listening to stories.

Collecting them.

Visiting people and places where myths and legends are remembered and festivals celebrated.

Creating earthstoriez to preserve and share this common heritage.

EARTHSTORIEZ is about stories from Mythology, Folklore and Religion, relevant, because by listening and retelling them we explore social norms, and through engaging with them, we form our own identities and work out where we stand. – giving us meaningful learning opportunities. Besides being fun it is growing in the process.

Folklore is part of the fabric that makes up our everyday life – it is informally learned and unofficial information.

History Mythology Folklore

At earthstoriez, we particularly treasure those threads of the fabric of knowledge that carry an awareness of how a folk is woven into a place. Lore has for millennia informed the young people of communities in how to be human in a natural world. Lore comes from the same root word as learn. It includes both historical knowledge and know-how, passed down from one generation to another. Because the passing on of stories and traditions is intrinsically human, and something we can all come together to share.

EarthstOriez is an attempt to share and preserve stories from history, mythology and folklore.

This knowledge is apparent in the worldview of a people, which arises as cultural heritage: including customs, practices; places of biodiversity, history and art; objects, artistic expressions, and values.

At earthstoriez we believe, that an understanding of heritage and cultural history of communities encourages mutual respect for other ways of life.

Nothing brings us together like festivals do, so we try to be there – celebrating the sacred and profane together. Observing social practices (customs & rituals), listening to oral traditions and watching performing arts, like dance and music, universal languages, that we all have the ability to speak.

Cultural elements expressed through knowledge, skill or ritual are essential to shape a living culture. These include practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts and of course – gastronomic traditions. Discovering the bountiful gifts, the wealth of edible and medicinal wild plants of earth – Ethnobotany.

Eating and drinking can be a mind-broadening and an enjoyable cultural experience. Joining in with culinary traditions does enrich our taste buds. However, there are likely to be many surprises along the way.

By delving into stories and traditions of communities, we can explore the similarities that run through our EARTHSTORIEZ cultural history – myths and folklore – are a great way of connecting to a shared heritage, and an excellent way of learning about us – appreciating how we’re different and how we are all the same.

Stories help us reflect on what it means to be human.

folk + lore

The word is coined by antiquarian William J. Thoms (1803-1885) as an Anglo-Saxonism (replacing popular antiquities) and first published in the “Athenaeum” of Aug. 22, 1846, from folk + lore. Old English folclar meant “homily.”

This word revived folk in a modern sense of “of the common people, whose culture is handed down orally,” and opened up a flood of compound formations, e.g. folk art (1892), folk-hero (1874), folk-medicine (1877), folk-tale (1850; Old English folctalu meant “genealogy”), folk-song (1847), folk singer (1876), folk-dance (1877).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harpe

As defined in the UNESCO Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore (1989),

folklore (or traditional and popular culture) is the totality of tradition-based creations, of a cultural community, expressed by a group or individuals and recognized as reflecting the expectations of a community in so far as they reflect its cultural and social identity; its standards and values are transmitted orally, by imitation or by other means. Its forms are, among others, language, literature, music, dance, games, mythology, rituals, customs, handicrafts, architecture and other arts.”

Lynne S. McNeill, says:

“When most people think of “folklore” they think of the old, the rural, the rustic. They typically don’t think of the Internet, a technology that, if anything, is commonly judged to be dismantling our culture: destroying our interpersonal skills, squashing our cultural vitality, killing our individual creativity. Surprisingly, however, communications technologies like mobile phones, tablets, and computers have become the locus of a huge expanse of contemporary folk culture. Understanding the nature of folklore helps us identify the positive elements of digital culture.” (TED talk, published on 18 Dec 2015)

The New York American Folklore Society collected some definitions of FOLKLORE:

Folklore is the traditional art, literature, knowledge, and practice that is disseminated largely through oral communication and behavioral example. Every group with a sense of its own identity shares, as a central part of that identity, folk traditions–the things that people traditionally


  • dance,
  • make music,
  • sew clothing,


  • personal experience stories,
  • riddles,
  • song lyrics.


  • planting practices,
  • family traditions,
  • and other elements of worldview,


  • architecture,
  • art,
  • craft, and


  • how to build an irrigation dam,
  • how to nurse an ailment,
  • how to prepare barbecue,

As these examples indicate, in most instances there is no hard-and-fast separation of these categories, whether in everyday life or in folklorists’ work.
The word “folklore” names an enormous and deeply significant dimension of culture. Considering how large and complex this subject is, it is no wonder that folklorists define and describe folklore in so many different ways. Try asking dance historians for a definition of “dance,” for instance, or anthropologists for a definition of “culture.” No one definition will suffice–nor should it.

In part, this is also because particular folklorists emphasize particular parts or characteristics of the world of folklore as a result of their own work, their own interests, or the particular audience they’re trying to reach. And for folklorists, as for the members of any group who share a strong interest, disagreeing with one another is part of the work–and the enjoyment–of the field, and is one of the best ways to learn.

But to begin, below we have cited several folklorists’ definitions and descriptions of folklore, given in the order in which they were written and published. (One of them uses the word “folklife” instead, which American folklorists, following their European colleagues, have used more frequently of late.) None of these definitions answers every question by itself, and certainly none of them is the American Folklore Society’s official definition (we don’t have one), but each offers a good place to start.

One thing you’ll note about these definitions and descriptions is that they challenge the notion of folklore as something that is simply “old,” “old-fashioned,” “exotic,” “rural,” “peasant,” “uneducated,” “untrue,” or “dying out.”

Though folklore connects people to their past, it is a central part of life in the present, and is at the heart of all cultures–including our own–throughout the world.

Martha C. Sims and Martine Stephens. Living Folklore: An Introduction to the Study of People and their Traditions. Pp. 1-2. Logan: Utah State University Press, 2005.

Folklore is many things, and it’s almost impossible to define succinctly. It’s both what folklorists study and the name of the discipline they work within. Yes, folklore is folk songs and legends. It’s also quilts, Boy Scout badges, high school marching band initiations, jokes, chian letters, nicknames, holiday food… and many other things you might or might not expect. Folklore exists in cities, suburbs and rural villages, in families, work groups and dormitories. Folklore is present in many kinds of informal communication, whether verbal (oral and written texts), customary (behaviors, rituals) or material (physical objects). It involves values, traditions, ways of thinking and behaving. It’s about art. It’s about people and the way people learn. It helps us learn who we are and how to make meaning in the world around us. [Pages 1-2]

Dorothy Noyes. Folklore. In The Social Science Encyclopedia. 3rd edition. Adam Kuper and Jessica Kuper, eds. Pp. 375-378. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Folklore is a metacultural category used to mark certain genres and practices within modern societies as being not modern. By extension, the word refers to the study of such materials. More specific definitions place folklore on the far side of the various epistemological, aesthetic and technological binary oppositions that distinguish the modern from its presumptive contraries. Folklore therefore typically evokes both repudiation and nostalgia. [P. 375]

Barbro Klein. Folklore. In International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Volume 8. Pp. 5711-5715. New York: Elsevier, 2001.

‘Folklore’ has four basic meanings. First, it denotes oral narration, rituals, crafts, and other forms of vernacular expressive culture. Second, folklore, or ‘folkloristics,’ names an academic discipline devoted to the study of such phenomena. Third, in everyday usage, folklore sometimes describes colorful ‘folkloric’ phenomena linked to the music, tourist, and fashion industries. Fourth, like myth, folklore can mean falsehood. [P. 5711]

Mary Hufford. American Folklife: A Commonwealth of Cultures. Washington: American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, 1991.

What is folklife? Like Edgar Allan Poe’s purloined letter, folklife is often hidden in full view, lodged in the various ways we have of discovering and expressing who we are and how we fit into the world. Folklife is reflected in the names we bear from birth, invoking affinities with saints, ancestors, or cultural heroes. Folklife is the secret languages of children, the codenames of CB operators, and the working slang of watermen and doctors. It is the shaping of everyday experiences in stories swapped around kitchen tables or parables told from pulpits. It is the African American rhythms embedded in gospel hymns, bluegrass music, and hip hop, and the Lakota flutist rendering anew his people’s ancient courtship songs.

Folklife is the sung parodies of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the variety of ways there are to skin a muskrat, preserve string beans, or join two pieces of wood. Folklife is the society welcoming new members at bris and christening, and keeping the dead incorporated on All Saints Day. It is the marking of the Jewish New Year at Rosh Hashanah and the Persian New Year at Noruz. It is the evolution of vaqueros into buckaroos, and the riderless horse, its stirrups backward, in the funeral processions of high military commanders.

Folklife is the thundering of foxhunters across the rolling Rappahannock countryside and the listening of hilltoppers to hounds crying fox in the Tennessee mountains. It is the twirling of lariats at western rodeos, and the spinning of double-dutch jumpropes in West Philadelphia. It is scattered across the landscape in Finnish saunas and Italian vineyards; engraved in the split-rail boundaries of Appalachian “hollers” and the stone fences around Catskill “cloves”; scrawled on urban streetscapes by graffiti artists; and projected onto skylines by the tapering steeples of churches, mosques, and temples.

Folklife is community life and values, artfully expressed in myriad forms and interactions. Universal, diverse, and enduring, it enriches the nation and makes us a commonwealth of cultures.

Henry Glassie. The Spirit of Folk Art. New York: Abrams, 1989.

“Folklore,” though coined as recently as 1846, is the old word, the parental concept to the adjective “folk.” Customarily folklorists refer to the host of published definitions, add their own, and then get on with their work, leaving the impression that definitions of folklore are as numberless as insects. But all the definitions bring into dynamic association the ideas of individual creativity and collective order.

Folklore is traditional. Its center holds. Changes are slow and steady. Folklore is variable. The tradition remains wholly within the control of its practitioners. It is theirs to remember, change, or forget. Answering the needs of the collective for continuity and of the individual for active participation, folklore…is that which is at once traditional and variable.

William A. Wilson. The Deeper Necessity: Folklore and the Humanities. Journal of American Folklore 101:400, 1988.

Surely no other discipline is more concerned with linking us to the cultural heritage from the past than is folklore; no other discipline is more concerned with revealing the interrelationships of different cultural expressions than is folklore; and no other discipline is so concerned …with discovering what it is to be human. It is this attempt to discover the basis of our common humanity, the imperatives of our human existence, that puts folklore study at the very center of humanistic study.

Barre Toelken. The Dynamics of Folklore. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1979.

Tradition [means] not some static, immutable force from the past, but those pre-existing culture-specific materials and options that bear upon the performer more heavily than do his or her own personal tastes and talents. We recognize in the use of tradition that such matters as content and style have been for the most part passed on but not invented by the performer.

Dynamic recognizes, on the other hand, that in the processing of these contents and styles in performance, the artist’s own unique talents of inventiveness within the tradition are highly valued and are expected to operate strongly. Time and space dimensions remind us that the resulting variations may spread geographically with great rapidity (as jokes do) as well as down through time (good luck beliefs). Folklore is made up of informal expressions passed around long enough to have become recurrent in form and context, but changeable in performance.

…modern American folklorists do not limit their attention to the rural, quaint, or “backward” elements of the culture. Rather, they will study and discuss any expressive phenomena–urban or rural–that seem to act like other previously recognized folk traditions. This has led to the development of a field of inquiry with few formal boundaries, one with lots of feel but little definition, one both engaging and frustrating.

Jan Brunvand. The Study of American Folklore: An Introduction, 2nd edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 1978.

Folklore comprises the unrecorded traditions of a people; it includes both the form and content of these traditions and their style or technique of communication from person to person.

Folklore is the traditional, unofficial, non-institutional part of culture. It encompasses all knowledge, understandings, values, attitudes, assumptions, feelings, and beliefs transmitted in traditional forms by word of mouth or by customary examples.

Edward D. Ives. Joe Scott, the Woodsman-Songmaker. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978.

No song, no performance, no act of creation can be properly understood apart from the culture or subculture in which it is found and of which it is a part; nor should any “work of art” be looked on as a thing in itself apart from the continuum of creation-consumption.

Dell Hymes. Foundations in Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Perspective. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1974.

[Folklore study is] the study of communicative behavior with an esthetic, expressive, or stylistic dimension.

Dan Ben-Amos. Toward a Definition of Folklore in Context, in Américo Paredes and Richard Bauman, eds. Toward New Perspectives in Folklore. Austin: University of Texas Press for the American Folklore Society, 1972.

…folklore is artistic communication in small groups.

Piero Fornasetti.

~ ○ ~

Works Cited & Multimedia Sources
  • Video: TED talk. Lynne S. McNeill on folklore, 2015.
  • Douglas Harpe. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2010.
  • American Folklore Society: What is folklore?
  • Glossary
  • Memory, Modernity and Identity.