May 28, 2008

Weekly Geeks: Folklore

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This week’s theme was suggested by Renay. She says, “I thought it would be cool to ask people to talk about other forms of story-telling.”

This week’s theme is once again one you could approach several ways. You might want to tell about the forms of storytelling (aside from books) you love. Maybe you enjoy TV shows, movies, music, narrative poetry, or Renay’s favorite, fanfiction. You could give us an overview of a type of storytelling, such as listing your favorite movies. Or you might pick a more specific story, one particular favorite. I just finished watching an episode of Lost, for example, so I could tell why I enjoy that series, or I could get more specific and focus on one character’s personal story. Some people might post youtubes of the songs whose stories they find brilliant, or some might share family bedtime stories. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Back in my childhood days, I was always at the kitchen table with the adults when there was a get-together. I didn't want to miss out on the stories. My Grandmother had her memories of the old country but my Grandfather, when you could get him to talk, had the best ones: ghost stories from Newfoundland, odd tales about The Pit, shipping superstitions (women are okay but no whistling). I've always had a hankering for the past. How did people live? What did they believe?

The days of chats around the table are rare nowadays so I usually find them in books. Folklorist Helen Creighton spent the 50's travelling around the province collecting the songs and stories of the 'old people'. She wrote Bluenose Ghosts. There are other collections of these types of stories as well but that's one of the best.

It's interesting to read what people used to believe. There are often hints of religion in them. Stories beginning with card playing or dancing usually end with the devil flying through the roof, since dancing and card playing are often a Protestant no-no. Catholic stories have ghosts harassing strangers until they communicate that they need a Mass said for them. There's a surprising number of nasty or cheap relatives refusing to pay for funeral Masses in the province, if the stories are true. Even the old Celtic religions show up in the stories here and there.

Being a Maritime province, there are tales of pirates, ghost ships and everyone knows about Oak Island. I've heard about a mysterious French mine in the area and hidden Acadian gold (where they got it, Lord only knows!).

Most of the tales are just stories I can laugh off but I've known people my own age who swear they've had forerunners, dreams of or visitations by relatives just before they've died. My Mom told me a friend couldn't get home one night because of an invisible wall he couldn't get by (a house was built on the spot later). My brothers had an incident happen to them that they will not talk about to this day. And even Mr Science, aka husband, ("I must have fallen asleep") had a bizarre experience.

I'm sure I'll be telling these stories to my grandchildren someday. They may change a bit and get a little juicier as I get older. I imagine that's what happens to stories as they turn into tales. They just keep getting better as time goes on.

6 comments :

  1. It is a similar take on this as mine. (I had to come see... :) I do love listening to people tell stories about their past; I think that's why I wanted to pursue a degree in folklore and oral histories. I'm glad I didn't, though: it probably would have killed the enjoyment for me. :)

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  2. Great post! If I could look back at my library record from middle school, I think I'd find that most of the books I checked out were folklore-related.

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  3. One of the best forms of story telling. One of the most popular forms in India. I have been to a few in the lines of performing art!

    Tell a Story!

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  4. Melissa- Yes, once it's work, it's probably not as fun.

    Heather- There's something about that age, I think.

    Gautami- I'll check it out.

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  5. I like this post. I hadn't thought about it.

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  6. I haven't posted mine yet, but I'm so enjoying reading these posts!

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