GRADES 4 & higher



Before talking about folklore, the words folk and lore must be defined.

"Folk" is another word for "people."

When we use the word "folk," we usually mean "common people."

The common people are the regular people who are NOT kings,queens, princes, and princesses or other kinds of special people of high status.

The word "status" means a person's POSITION or LEVEL or IMPORTANCE in a group of people when compared to other people in the same group.

LORE means the understandings and beliefs that people have.


FOLKLORE means the understands and beliefs about the visible world that the common people in a particular group share .

Folklore also includes shared practices that have been passed down from one generation to the next.The word generation means a group of people who were born within the same period of time-- perhaps within the same 20 years.

Usually, these shared beliefs, understandings and practices were passed down orally. The word orally means BY TELLING, NOT IN THE WRITTEN WORD. Folklore is also about the way people within the group communicate.

Sometimes, Folklore is called FOLKLIFE.


Although the word FOLK usually means "common people," sometimes the people within a group with high status (royalty, nobility) also share SOME of the FOLKLORE (Folklife).

People in a group are linked together by national origin (the country they come from) and / or ethnic origin (people who share the same race , language and/or cultural background. The culture of a group of people includes all those practices used by that group in living their lives ).

These people who are in the group share these same understandings, belief, and practices with other people in the same group.These understandings , beliefs, and practices are OWNED by these people.

A group's folklore ( folklife) may be different from the folklore( folklife )of other groups of people, or they may be similar in some ways. For example, one cultural group might speak the same language as another cultural group.


The important thing to remember is that the folklore (folklife) of a group of people is part of the shared culture of the people in the group.

CULTURAL BACKGROUND, also called CULTURE means the WAY OF LIFE of a group of people who share that way of life.

Culture is similar in meaning to folklore / folklife.

A group's CULTURE includes beliefs, behaviors, practices, celebrations,stories, fashion,and all other parts of life SHARED by a group of people who "IDENTIFY" with that group.

"Identifying with a group" means that people in the group see themselves as part of that group, sharing in most of what that group believes about life. They also follow the customs and traditions of that group.




Folklore includes customs and traditions.

Customs means the particular way a group of people do something.

Tradition means the way people have done something in the same way over a long period of time.

The words customs and traditions are very close in meaning. That is because customs develop over a long period of time.


A good example of a custom / tradition is the American celebration of Thanksgiving.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated on the last Thursday in November. People eat foods which we think were served by the Pilgrims in the year 1621 at what we think of as the First
Thanksgiving feast.


Folklore or Folklife has:

- beliefs about living
- shared practices in daily living
- dances-- known as folkdances
- songs--known as folksongs
- stories--known as folktales
- games
- proverbs ( a short popular saying that is known to many people in the group. )
- holidays and celebrations
- fashion
...and other parts of life shared by the people in the group.



RELIGION is not usually considered part of folklore or folklife .

Religion includes beliefs about something BEYOND ( not part of ) the visible world in which people are living. Folklore or Folklife focuses on the world in which people are living.

Religion is not usually associated with any one particular cultural group.

That means that people in many different cultural groups living in many different places, might have the SAME religion, even though these groups have different cultures.

There are a few cases, where the religion is ALSO considered the basis for the culture. (For example, the Jewish people have the
Jewish religion. The Jewish people also think of having the religion as the connecting link to a Jewish culture.)




What is Folklore?

Folklore includes the understandings, customs , traditional practices of a group of people who identify with that group.

Each group has a feeling of owndership of their folklore.


In the section called FROM THE FOLKS, you will learn about one part of FOLKORE / FOLKLIFE--



- You will learn what  folktales are

- You will learn how folktales got started, and how they continued

- You will learn about the many different TYPES  of folktales

- You  will learn why folktales were important to  

..............- You will read some folktales

- You will be given a list of some good books and other sources to find out more .information about folktales

- You will be given a list of websites about