What Is Folklore?


What is Folklore? What do you know about folklore? If you want to learn more about it, join me in this Do You Know episode from English Plus Podcast.

Audio Podcast

What Is Folklore?

Come, sit and listen while I tell you a story. Have you ever heard of Robin Hood from Sherwood Forest, who robbed from the rich to give to the poor? How about Snow White biting into the poisoned apple? Then there’s Jack, who traded his mother’s cow for a handful of beans. But they turned out to be magic beans that grew into a giant beanstalk! What these stories have in common is that they are all folklore. They are stories passed on by word of mouth from parents to their children.


People have shared folklore for thousands of years. We are natural storytellers. Before there were printed books, we entertained ourselves and taught lessons through stories. Besides storytelling, people pass down folklore through jokes, songs, poetry, riddles, nursery rhymes, and even art. Over the years, a folklore story is told and retold. People living in different times and different places sometimes change the stories to fit their own shared beliefs.


People often use folklore to explain how the world was created, or how a lake or mountain came to be. We also keep track of our history and our culture’s special heroes through folklore.

Folklore can tell an endless story like “The House That Jack Built.” Folklore can be a tall tale like stories of Paul Bunyan or Mike Fink on the American Frontier. Many folklore tales have a hero, like Hercules, who uses wisdom or strength to overcome great challenges. Folklore can feature magical or supernatural creatures like fairies, dragons, and ghosts.

Folktales from West Africa and those of Native Americans might have a Trickster character, often an animal that is small and smart, but greedy, too. This character stirs up trouble and teaches lessons by tricking others.

Folk traditions are also passed down from parents to their children through the years. These traditions include folk dances, folk music, games, favorite recipes, rituals, and special festivals.


People began studying folklore from the past during the 1600s. People who study folklore are known as folklorists. From 1812 to 1815, two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, collected and retold German folktales. Writer Hans Christian Andersen retold many folktales from Denmark. Folklorists try to learn where folktales come from and what things stories from around the world have in common.

Folklore societies preserve folklore for the future. As early as 1905, a folklore society used Thomas Edison’s invention, the phonograph, to record folk songs. Today, folklore is saved in written works, preserved on audiotape, and retold in movies.


From the time people first gathered around a campfire and listened to a story, folklore has linked us to our past. Over time, folklore changes to meet the needs of different people living in different times. But folklore carries clues to a culture’s traditions, beliefs, and history for future generations. Let the stories continue!

Are you serious about building your vocabulary?

Check out my Word Search Games and Activities book series.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Want more like this post?

100 Events That Changed the World 41-50

100 Events That Changed the World 41-50

Learn about ten events that changed the history of the world in this new episode from the series 100 Events That Changed the World. We will talk about events from Mercator’s projections all the way to Sir Isaac Newton and his Principia.

Do You Know Dante Alighieri?

Do You Know Dante Alighieri?

What do you know about Dante Alighieri? Learn more about one of the most influential writers of all time. We are talking about Dante in this episode because later this week, we will also talk about his masterpiece, the Divine Comedy, so we’d better learn more about the man behind that masterpiece.

Do You Know | Bones and Skeleton

Do You Know | Bones and Skeleton

What do you know about the bones and skeleton? What do bones do? What are bones made of? What are joints? How do bones grow? And what happens to broken bones? If you want answers to all these questions, join me in this Do You Know episode from English Plus Podcast where we will talk about the bones and skeleton.

English Plus Bites

Are You Hungry?

Daily English Plus Bites are just a couple of clicks away...

Sign up and start receiving daily short learning emails which include idioms, reading, word power, common mistakes, grammar and more.

Unlock a world of learning delivered daily to your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest