By Jacqueline Simpson
With 1250 entries starting from dragons to mom Goose, could Day to Michaelmas, this mesmerizing dictionary unfurls the colourful heritage at the back of the vacations, customs, legends, and superstitious ideals of britain. Ever ask yourself why we kiss lower than the mistletoe at Christmas or imagine a rabbit's foot brings solid success? folklore specialists offer trustworthy and infrequently marvelous solutions to those and different curiosities that experience formed way of life in England for hundreds of years. They discover the fairs and previous celebrations of the English calendar, from St. Andrews Day and its culture of drunkenness and cross-dressing to 12th evening and its king and queen cake. additionally they supply concise photos of genuine and mythical characters that populate the general public reminiscence, together with Robin Hood, The Brothers Grimm, woman Godiva, Puck, and The Sandman. Fairies, mermaids, hobgoblins, and changelings are yet some of the supernatural forces surveyed the following. although, as folklore encompasses the mundane in addition to the glorious, a variety of different entries light up the importance of colours, numbers, flora, animals, and loved ones items. examine the curious background at the back of our mistrust of the "black sheep," renowned credence in "wishbone" needs, folks treatments for nosebleeds and warts, and chronic outdated better halves' stories. as well as historical and medieval folklore, you'll find many modern city legends, e.g., the vanishing hitchhiker--a spooky determine visible ominously via tourists in Britain and the United States--and the the teeth Fairy. An exciting source, The Dictionary of English Folklore should be a desirable spouse for readers of English literature, historical past, cultural stories, and delusion.
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Extra info for A Dictionary of English Folklore
Occasionally they guard *treasure, as at Dobb Park Lodge (Lancashire). Another haunted a farm near Lyme Regis (Dorset), to the annoyance of the farmer, who chased it with a poker and accidentally struck the attic wall, dislodging a hidden box of coins (Udal, 1922: 167). The idea that the Devil may appear as a Black Dog is found in several accounts of witch trials and in other printed sources. A violent storm one Sunday in August 1577 damaged the villages of Blythburgh and Bungay in Suffolk, and a contemporary tract claimed that a black dog of ‘horrible shape’ accompanied by ‘fearful ﬂashes of ﬁre’ was seen rushing through both churches, killing or injuring several people; it was ‘the divil in such likeness’ (Briggs, 1970–1: B.
Compare also *sieve and shears. Less complicated, but still relying on the Bible’s innate powers, was a *New Year morning custom whereby people who wanted to know about the coming year opened the Bible at random, placed their ﬁnger on a verse, without looking of course, and read out the selected chapter. Those assembled then interpreted the prognostication. This could be done at other times, for example when starting on a journey. A variation was to take the Bible to bed on New Year’s Eve, and open it in the dark when you ﬁrst wake (after midnight), mark the place, and read it in the morning (Gurdon, 1893:136–8).
Beltane. This word, variously spelled and meaning ‘bright ﬁre’ or ‘lucky ﬁre’, is the Irish and Scottish Gaelic name for *May Day, and is particularly associated with the custom of lighting *bonﬁres on the eve of the feast, to protect cattle from witchcraft. May Eve bonﬁres were also common in the 18th century in Devon, Cornwall, Cumbria, and the Isle of Man—areas where *Celtic tradition could have survived. The word ‘Beltane’ itself, however, is never found in England (Hutton, 1996: 218–25). Beowulf.