Folklore, folktales, myths, & legends

Mythology and folklore could be considered a religion, or it can be considered a collection of stories explaining the world and tradition of a certain geographical area.

Norse mythology

Mythology and myths, together with folklore and legends, are all related areas that combine fiction, fantasy, and history. It includes the traditions, the beliefs, the tales, and the nightmares from a group of people.

There are differences between mythologies and folklore, though, mostly on what the stories contain. For example, myth deals with divine powers—gods and demigods, while legends are more about supernatural beings and magic.

Mythology versus folklore

Sometimes mythology and folklore are used interchangeably, but there can be a difference between them. Usually, it is hard to grasp the difference; looking at the definitions of the words gives almost no hints as to what separates these two terms.

So what is the difference? Below is listed some ways that a distinction could be. I’m in no way an expert; this is my thoughts and ideas on the difference.

The content

The creation of mythology came from the need to answer the questions of the people. Questions about the fundamental concerns of humankind. Who are we? Where did we come from? How did the world start? What happens after death? What makes the sun move along the sky and the trees grow? The tales give hope to the lives of the people.

The creation of folklore came from the need to explain everyday things. Explain where sickness came from and why people were sometimes acting strangely. It tries to show why you should be careful around water and bridges; you have to take care of the earth and your home. The tales give hope to the daily lives of the people.

Mythology tells of heroic adventures, and folklore is tales of everyday folk.

It isn’t always this clear cut between the two, sometimes they overlap, and the lines blur. Sometimes the one going on a heroic adventure is an everyday person. Sometimes the heroic adventure is defeating a supernatural creature and involves no gods. There will be tales that include both types or take some ideas from one of them and include them in the other.

The time

There is also another definition of the differences between mythology and folklore. At least, there is a relation between Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore. Applying it all over the world might be possible.

In Scandinavia, folklore is what developed from mythology. The gods of old got replaced by the single one of Christianity. But the folk still needed magical creatures to explain the things happening around them.