Thursday, June 13, 2013

Folklore Overview

Here is a brief look at folklore categories:

Folk Art - art made by folk - is considered to be more rustic than fine art and is primarily decorative in purpose. Folk art also generally has a functional quality as well; it is art with purpose. Examples: carousel horses, scarecrows, quilts.

Food Lore refers to the traditional beliefs, myths, tales, and practices of food preparation and serving, as well as its use as medicine.  For example: the Good Luck charm of a King Cake. In Catholic  communities this sweet dessert is served on Epiphany (January 6) to celebrate the magi's gifts to the Jesus baby.  There is usually one 'treasure' of some kind (almond, tiny toy, etc.) in the cake and the one who finds it in his or her slice is considered to be lucky.

Folk Heroes and Heroines are everywhere. They are real, fictional or metaphoric people often recognized for character traits and deeds. These memorable people, who run the gamut, from politicians and healers to scoundrels and loners, are known for their strengths. These celebrated traits can be found in film, literature, songs, tales and other elements of folklore.

Folktales  exist in every culture, religion, or political system. These stories connect the dots between our pasts, presents, and futures; where our ancestors have been and where we might be going.

Often narrative, they also provide information about the trials of everyday life. Folklorists have collected and cataloged these elements and, as a result, have developed common themes, or "motifs" such as trickster and healer.

Some Folk Music songs are so old they are considered oral histories, but the term “folk music” (which literally means music of the people) was invented in the early 19th century. By the 20th century it was also referred to, in this country, as “American roots music”. As history developed, the genre of folk music expanded to include blues, gospel, country, and Native American chants. 
They are also at the heart of many children's songs and nursery rhymes, such as Clap Your Hands!, B-I-N-G-O, and The Ants Go Marching.

For more examples of the many folklore genres, visit our Resources 

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