Folk Culture

I first thought of writing this topic when exploring the topic of Bulgaria yesterday and immediately considered folk culture. I also just realized that folk culture is an intersection of two of my passions that I considered researching in my dissertation, fairy tales (which I ended up focusing on) and carnival (which I hope to still include).
Folk culture is popular among rural and peasant groups. It is noted for its oral nature.
Bulgaria is one of the masters of folk culture. Wikipedia states that the Bulgarian nation has one of the richest folk heritage in the world since a number of ancient civilizations, such as the Thracians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Ostrogoths, Slavs, Varangians, and Bulgars left their mark on the culture, history, and heritage of Bulgaria.
On the website on Bulgarian folklore,, it says, "The world’s myths, traditional tales and folklore are windows into the development of the human psyche. They represent a distillation of human experience that both transcends and reflects boundaries of time, geography and culture: they have universal relevance yet are culture-specific." That theory can apply to folklore of all cultures. The aforementioned site also states, "Bulgarian folk narratives are distinguished by their stark, primal qualities, their spare poetic beauty and powerful archetypal characters. The characters are larger than life - epic heroes, warrior women and beguiling beings who inhabit a magical landscape that has its own reality, laws and logic. They are many-layered and reveal some very ancient roots, perhaps going back to Thracian times and beyond." I love archetypes, larger-than-life characters, and multi-dimensional characters. It is quite interesting that the archetypes can also be multi-dimensional as these two elements are often mutually exclusive. I should look into Bulgarian folklore to get an idea of how to develop characters that are both archetypes and multi-dimensional in my own writing. I wonder whether this multi-dimensional quality means that characters have complex morality; a distinction from usual folklore with its black-and-white good evil characters. I also like that the characters inhabit a magical landscape with its own laws and logic. I remember that in Fairies in Medieval Romance, a book that I researched for my dissertation, James Wade said that a fairy world/magical landscape has its own set of rules, morality, and logic. I also like how on the Bulgarian folklore site, it says, "While stories speak to us direct across time and space, an understanding of their cultural context can reveal a whole new dimension of meaning which has been obscured through the passage of time. Stories are two-way mirrors: a way of looking back into the past in order to see forward into the present." So it is common for the Bulgarians of today to keep turning to folklore as a guide on how to live their lives.
Bulgarian culture tends to be very traditional. Bulgarians still dress in traditional folk clothes and follow supernatural customs. Folk music, tales, and dances continue to be influential in everyday life. Bulgarian folk music and tales also are celebrated throughout the world. There is a National Fair of Bulgarian Folk Art that is held every year.
Africa is also another nation that is celebrated for its folk culture. It has a rich tradition of folk tales and fairy tales. Africans also turn to folk tales for superstitions and events in their everyday lives.
During a book fair in elementary school, I bought the hardcover version of From Sea to Shining Sea, which is a treasury of American folk tales and songs. I gather from the book that folk tales are more prevalent in the South in the United States. I especially liked reading about Brer Rabbit and playing some songs on the piano. I think that during childhood, one should fill their lives up with folk tales as much as possible to foster his/her imagination!

 I remember doing a report on folkloric music for extra credit in Spanish class during freshman year of high school. For some reason, I am no longer able to find any sites on folkloric music on the Internet now.
My friend, Leslie, whom I have mentioned before, created an ingenious dance piece, Racine d'Or, which is all about folk culture. I love when modern day artists turn to folk culture!
In The Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of Romance, Northrop Frye states that while myths are often related and complement one another, folk tales are independent. He states that, however, folk tales often follow a pattern in a culture.
Carnival was a manifestation of medieval folk culture. I will explore carnival in a later blog entry.
Well, for now, that is all I can think of to say about folk culture. I might write more in a later post.


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