Origins of Breaking the Wishbone: Horseshoes, Groins and Chicken Ouija Boards

‘Breaking the wishbone’ is a tradition around the world in the days after a Sunday roast, Thanksgiving or Christmas.

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Headless Horsemen and Ghostly Lights: The Top 5 Texas Urban Legends

Nowhere else on the planet in the last three hundred years has there been a pioneer narrative quite like the legends and myths of the American Frontier.

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Harvest Folklore

Before the advent of agricultural machinery, harvest time was an important period of physical work and folk tradition and ritual amongst rural communities.

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Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange by Adam Scovell, a Review

G. H. Finn reviews Adam Scovell's excellent new book: Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange.

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What Lies Beneath: Legendary Creatures from the Seas

Deep below the depths of the ocean, creatures from myth, legend, and lore, stalk our nightmares and give us chills, but we are always wanting more.

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Meet the Hulders (Whether You Want to or Not)

The Norwegian hulder-folk pursue Christian-folk - kidnapping their children, making them their partners and servants, and getting their help to steal food.

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Seven Years Bad Luck? – Reflections, Romans, and Reckless Servants

Bad luck from breaking a mirror has a long history, and the ominous associations are pervasive around the world.

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5 Legendary Monsters of North American Folklore

Legendary monsters thrive in North American lore, of that there is no doubt; and narrowing the array down to a “Top 5” list is a difficult task.

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Folklore of the Welsh Lakes: The Legend and Legacy of the Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach

In Wales, legends of encounters with the Otherworld are never far away. One such legend is associated with Llyn y Fan Fach, a lake in Carmarthenshire.

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Folklore as a Mode of Tyrannical Resistance

Folklore can be said to flourish in times of unrest and oppression, and can be seen as a powerful and imaginative means of resistance to social tyranny.

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Trows, Changelings and Wise Women in Early Nineteenth Century Kirkwall

A nineteenth century autobiography written by the minister William Leask offers a fascinating insight into supernatural belief in contemporary Orkney.

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Off the Grid: The Epic Tale of The Dun Cow, or… How Now Brown Cow?

There was once a bright-white cow which travelled round the world, giving milk enough for all comers. Whoever drank of her milk immediately became wise.

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A Brief Tour of European Wedding Cake Traditions

The cutting of a couple’s wedding cake is often the highlight of a wedding reception with newlyweds making their first ceremonial slice into the cake.

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50 Shades of Red: Sexuality and Loss of Innocence in Little Red Riding Hood

Of all the folk and fairy tales known to us, the tale of Little Red Riding Hood is perhaps one of the most enduring and provocative.

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Tongue, Pen, Ear, Page — Collecting and Performing Folktales and Ballads

How do writers collect and re-tell regional folktales? Kevan Manwaring explains his influences, methods, and inspirations for his work in this area.

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A Very British Book: The Road to ‘Tales of Britain’

Author Jem Roberts explains the genesis of Unbound Publishing’s 21st Century roadmap of British folktales.

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Riddles, Heroes, and Folktales Come True: Folklore in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

Folklore is central in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings: not only “external” folklore, the folklore of the “real” world, but also “internal” folklore.

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Cars, Coins and Cursed Colours: A Brief Introduction to the Folklore of Vehicles

Cars and motorbikes have been with us for over 130 years. In that time they’ve gathered superstitions and urban legends around them like exhaust fumes.

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The Origins of ‘Touch Wood’: Tree Spirits, The True Cross, or Tag?

The superstition of 'touch wood', or 'knock on wood' is still common today, but what was its original source? Madeleine D'Este explores some possibilities.

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Folk Healing & Hypnotism: Arthur Spray, ‘The Mysterious Cobbler’ of Bexhill

Arthur Spray, known as 'The Mysterious Cobbler of Bexhill', wrote an autobiography in 1935 which detailed his famed powers in healing and hypnotism.

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Welsh Lake Legends and Folklore: Llyn Barfog, the Female Dwellers of Annwn and King Arthur and the Afanc

In Wales, legends and folklore of King Arthur and the Otherworld are never far away, and lakes are often the settings for such stories.

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Just Hanging Around: The Gallows in English Folklore

The gallows play a dark role in the history of punishment, but also show an important influence in folklore, folk practices, and even everyday language.

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The Fairy Midwife and the Magic Ointment

An old woman in the cottage gave the midwife a box of ointment and asked her to anoint the baby all over, but to not get any of the ointment in her…

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The Duality of Modern Haitian Vodou

When the traditional Vodun religion of West African slaves collided in the Caribbean with the incoming Christianity of colonists, Haitian Vodou was born.

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The Legendary Llangollen Faery Festival: The Fae Fly to Wales this August!

Now in its fifth year, The Legendary Llangollen Faery Festival in North Wales has become one of the largest fairy events in the UK.

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Animal Folklore: Chasing Hares Through Stories, Myth, and Legend

Hares are widespread geographically, so hare stories are widespread culturally. But hares take on a surprising variety of roles in folklore, myth & legend.

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A Welsh Legend: The Men in the Cave by Horatio Clare

In this short story, Horatio Clare presents a retelling of the sleeping hero tale of Arthurian legend through the eyes of Gaheris, King Arthur's nephew.

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Welsh Lake Legends and Folklore: Llyn Cwm Llwch and the Door of the Tylwyth Teg

Welsh lake legends from the Brecon Beacons: A strange and dangerous old woman, an invisible island and an otherworldly guardian.

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How to Sell Your Wife …

How do you rid yourself of a wife who no longer pleases you? Sell her, of course.

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Bad Luck comes in Threes: Matches, Murderers or Mathematics

One installment in a series of common superstitions in the English speaking world: ‘Bad luck comes in threes.’

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Ferrous Friend or Foe? How Iron Became the Enemy of Fairy Folk

Iron bands around coffin of a witch were believed to prevent them from escaping their tombs. Yet iron has also been the saviour of many church bell ringers.

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Spinning a Tale: Spinning and Weaving in Myths and Legends

Spinning is a fundamentally human thing, and something that we have been doing since far into the ancient past.

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Fairy Folklore: Come Away, O Human Child

To be led astray, Peter Pan style, by a fairy – ‘pixie led’ – is an old fear from isolated communities where weather and terrain seemed to judge and punish.

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Protection and Punishment: Beliefs About Angels in Tudor and Stuart England

In Tudor and Stuart England, angels were believed to deliver messages, protect the godly, carry souls to heaven, punish sinners, and carry out God’s will.

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The Medieval Robin Hood: Folk Carnivals and Ballads

Robin Hood is known by everyone as the English outlaw hero, dashing through the greenwood with his band of merry men to rob from the rich and give to the poor, before…

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Ezekial Bone: Harnessing the Spirit of Robin Hood

The world needs heroes. Ezekial Bone explains why the time has come to put Robin Hood on the pedestal he deserves.

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Who Was the Real Robin Hood? A New Theory from Michael Reuel

Michael Reuel talks about his theory that historical roots for the character of Robin Hood may be seen in medieval folklore ballads.

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Japanese Legends: The Three Most Evil Yokai of Japan

Japan has a love of official top three lists. You may have heard of the Three Views of Japan (Matsushima, Amanohashidate, and Itsukushima), the Three Great Gardens of Japan (Kenroku-en, Koraku-en, and…

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Georgian Folklore: The Prince Who Befriended the Beasts

This is a story collected in Michael Berman’s book Georgia Through its Folktales. The book explores the shamanic possibilities held within folk tales.

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Dumplings and Dragonboats: The Chinese Duan Wu Festival

When I was a little girl, I used to watch with open-mouthed admiration and puzzlement as my mother prepared the ingredients for the making of zong zi (rice wrapped in leaf). She…

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