If you've just stumbled onto this blog, please forgive the appearance; it's still under construction. If I've used one of your photos (found on Google) in a lecture and you don't approve, please write a comment and I'll remove it.

The purpose of this blog is to explain the basics of art and culture to English language learners in secondary school in Slovakia. This is not for profit. If you look to your right, you'll see a long list of topics that I plan to cover. This is a large project that will most likely take years to complete, covering some topics I know little about (like dance), so I will be borrowing heavily from other experts, with their permission, giving credit wherever possible. Please be patient, and, of course, all advice is greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Folklore is the knowledge of a culture, handed down from generation to generation. Folk means people, and lore means knowledge. Folklore consists of the stories, songs, games, festivals, crafts (zručnosti), history, superstitions (povery), sayings (príslovie), jokes, riddles (hádanky), and traditions of a culture. Every country has its own folklore, some old and some new. Most stories considered to be folklore include folk tales, fables, fairy tales, legends, ghost stories, and local, town histories. Newer folk stories are usually called urban legends. Folk traditions include folk medicine, prayers, magic, and weather lore.

English Folklore

Famous examples of English folklore include the tales of Robin Hood, the legend of King Arthur, and the Beast of Bodmin Moor. You can also see lots of lore represented in the names of pubs.

Scottish & Irish Folklore

Folklore from these nations is mostly Celtic, from the people who lived there thousands of years ago – the Gaels, Picts, and Brittons. Much of their culture is lost, as they were conquered by the Romans, and then converted to Christianity. Famous examples of Irish folklore include the Battle of Mag Tuireadh, and the legend of the Loch Ness Monster.

American Folklore

American folklore includes stories from European settlers, as well as Native Americans. Native Americans have many creation myths, hero legends, and “trickster stories”, where a spirit may help or hurt people. The Navajo Coyote spirit is an example of a trickster (podvodník). America is also famous for it’s tall tales about real people such as Johnny Appleseed, Davy Crockett, Annie Oakley, and fictional characters like Paul Bunyon and John the Conqueror. Other bits of American folklore include  monsters like Bigfoot, the Jersey Devil, the Hodag, and the Blair Witch.

Slovak Folklore

Slovakia has a rich folk tradition with music, dancing, crafts, and stories. Slovak folklore includes the stories of Janošik, Elizabeth Bathory, Hedwig, and the White Lady of Levoca, based on Julia Korponayova, who, when spying for the Hapsburg emperor in Levoca, a town which was presently besieged by the Hapsburg army outside its walls, became the lover of the rebel Hungarian baron. During the night, she stole his keys, and let the army in, leading to the fall of the town. In the battle, she was killed.

Hedwig was daughter to King Philip of Spis Castle. After he killed the son of a Polish monarch, legend has it that the Polish king wanted revenge by killing King Philip's daughter Barbora. While Barbora and her sister Hedwig were alone in the castle, the Polish king seized the castle. Hedwig, believing her sister to be dead, jumped from the castle’s highest tower. After she jumped, a mysterious face appeared on a wall of the castle that is said to bear a striking resemblance to Hedwig.

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