Folklore

Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, superstition, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called folkloristics. The word ‘folklore’ was first used by the English antiquarian William Thoms in a letter published in the London journal The Athenaeum in 1846. In usage, there is a continuum between folklore and mythology. Stith Thompson made a major attempt to index the motifs of both folklore and mythology, providing an outline into which new motifs can be placed, and scholars can keep track of all older motifs.

Folklore can be divided into four areas of study: Cultural artifacts (such as voodoo dolls), describable and transmissible entity (oral tradition), culture, and behavior (rituals). These areas do not stand alone, however, as often a particular item or element may fit into more than one of these areas.