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Articles on Folklore

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By John Dickson Batten/Wikimedia

What is a goblin?

Like all members of the category of ‘fey’, or the beings of the preternatural world, including fairies, elves, and pixies, goblins are renowned for being tricksy. In other words, best avoided.
A Ukrainian soldier wanders down a railway past the bodies of dead Russian soldiers on the outskirts of Irpin, Ukraine, March 1, 2022. Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

How fairy tales shape fighting spirit: Ukraine’s children hear bedtime stories of underdog heroes, while Russian children hear tales of magical success

The Russian army has fared poorly and the Ukrainian military has fared well, defying experts’ predictions about the war in Ukraine. Can children’s fairy tales help explain the difference?
A street painting in Bucharest, Romania, depicts Bram Stoker, right, the author of Dracula, sharing a drink with Vlad the Impaler, left, the medieval Romanian ruler who inspired the book. (AP Photos/Vadim Ghirda)

Vampire myths originated with a real blood disorder

Did vampires ever really exist? The myth is likely related to a medical condition with symptoms that may explain many elements of centuries-old vampire folklore.
Couples get romantic on Qixi, a lovers’ festival similar to Valentine’s Day. Visual China Group via Getty Images

How China does Valentine’s Day

China’s Qixi Festival is a celebration of love based on the legend of a mortal who married a goddess, causing his furious mother-in-law to create a Milky Way to divide these two twinkling stars.
Knocking on wood may be a holdover from the pagan days of Europe, when tree spirits were believed to bring luck. saiful bahri 46/Shutterstock.com

Why we knock on wood for luck

The curious history of a ritual meant to ward off bad luck.

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