Skip to main content

What is Folklore?

Folklore is the culture of the people. It is the hidden submerged culture lying in the shadow of the official civilization about which historians write. Schools and churches, legislatures and courts, books and concerts represent the institutions of civilization. But surrounding them are other cultural systems based on tradition, systems that directly govern the ideas, beliefs, and behavior of most of the world's peoples. Official religion is found in ecclesiastical creeds and doctrines, but the religion of the folk lives in legends of saints, miracles wrought by the prophets, blessings and charms and rituals learned in the family as ...

Read Full Article

Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more.