A Dictionary of English Folklore

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, 2000 - Social Science - 411 pages
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With 1250 entries ranging from dragons to Mother Goose, May Day to Michaelmas, this enchanting dictionary unfurls the colorful history behind the holidays, customs, legends, and superstitious beliefs of England.
Ever wonder why we kiss under the mistletoe at Christmas or think a rabbit's foot brings good luck? Two folklore authorities provide reliable and often surprising answers to these and other curiosities that have shaped daily life in England for centuries. They explore the festivals and past celebrations of the English calendar, from St. Andrews Day and its tradition of drunkenness and cross-dressing to Twelfth Night and its king and queen cake. They also provide concise portraits of real and legendary characters that populate the public memory, including Robin Hood, The Brothers Grimm, Lady Godiva, Puck, and The Sandman. Fairies, mermaids, hobgoblins, and changelings are but a few of the supernatural forces surveyed here. However, as folklore encompasses the mundane as well as the fantastic, numerous other entries illuminate the significance of colors, numbers, flowers, animals, and household objects. Learn the curious history behind our distrust of the "black sheep," popular credence in "wishbone" wishes, folk cures for nosebleeds and warts, and persistent old wives' tales. In addition to ancient and medieval folklore, you will find many contemporary urban legends, e.g., the vanishing hitchhiker--a spooky figure seen ominously by travelers in Britain and the United States--and the Tooth Fairy.
An entertaining resource, The Dictionary of English Folklore will be a fascinating companion for readers of English literature, history, cultural studies, and fantasy.
  

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Selected pages

Contents

Introduction
Abbreviations
List of Plates
A
B
C
D
E
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T

F
G
H
I
J
K
L

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2000)


Dr. Jacqueline Simpson was president of the Folklore Society from 1993 to 1996, editor of Folklore from 1979 to 1993, and is currently Honorary Secretary of the Folklore Society. Her publications include Folklore of Sussex, Folklore of the Welsh Borders, and Scandinavian Folktales. Steve Roud has been Honorary Librarian of the Folklore Society for the last 15 years. He is the author of Mumming Plays in Oxfordshire and has compiled the Index to the Journal Folklore 1968-1992.

Bibliographic information