Folklore, Legends, and Myth


Now that the media stories behind the brutal stabbings in Wisconsin have somewhat quieted, I wanted to spend some time discussing legend, urban legend, folklore and myth since we have heard these words very often these past few weeks.


However, first and foremost, as a publisher of horror we want to say that we do not condone any real-world violence. Horror fiction is just that, it is fiction. Our goal with Burial Day Books has always been to highlight new and emerging horror authors, and ultimately to celebrate good writing. Our thoughts are with the victim and her family.

In the news stories, many of you read mention of myth, folklore, urban legends, and creepypasta. We wanted to go through and discuss some of those terms.

A myth is a story based on a tradition. Some do have factual origins, but some are completely fictional. These stories tend to explain experiences of man and nature. Their endings are not always optimistic. Gods, fantastic creatures and super humans are often featured in mythology. Popular myths include stories of the gods and goddesses of Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece.

Folklore, or folk tales consist of legends, stories, and tales that are written, spoken, or communicated through music that are tied to a specific culture or group of people. Artifacts can also be connected to folklore.

A legend is a popular story often thought to be based on historic events. The Brother’s Grimm defined legend as a story that has historical origins. Examples of legends include the story of the Fountain of Youth, the story of Atlantis, Robin Hood, and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Urban Legend
Urban legends are modern legends. Despite its name, an urban legend does not necessarily mean it originated in an urban setting. The name ‘Urban’ associates it with taking place in contemporary settings and for this many folklorists prefer the term “contemporary legend.” Examples of urban legends include Bloody Mary, The Hook, the Vanishing Hitchhiker, or even the story of cryptid Chupacabra.

Internet Urban Legends
A phenomena on the rise is that of urban legends circulating on the internet. Internet urban legends spread through posts on various blogs, chat rooms and other social media settings. Creepypasta is part of this grouping. The word creepypasta is a mutation of the words “copy paste.” “Copy pasta” is an internet term for a block of text that is copy and pasted from website to website. Creepypasta are horror stories that are posted on multiple sites. Creepypasta can include images, audio and video. Creepypasta, is a literary sub-genre of horror that originated on the internet.

Many of us are familiar with the stock of characters that appear in myth, folklore, legend, and urban legend. However, we are not all clear on the emerging cast popular in internet legends and creepypasta tales. In our next post, we will explore some of these individuals and their origin story.