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  • Writer's pictureKali Kuzma

The Difference Between a Folklore and a Myth

There's a Difference Between Stories?

Welcome back to Nordic Month here on Kali Kuzma Author and Storyteller. So far, we've gotten to know some fun facts about the Nordics along with reliving my time spent in Iceland. Go check them out so you can be all caught up!

This week we'll get back to our roots with some storytelling. Most often times I write short stories set in modern day with some sort of twist at the end. But did you know there are different kinds of storytelling?

Most people would often think the genre is what separates stories from one another which just isn't the case. Instead, it has to do with the meaning behind the story. Because of this there can be some overlap which often confuses some people when trying to identify which story type is which.

I found this out my sophomore year of college when I decided to take a literature class. I had no clue what we'd be diving into since we didn't get to find out the topic of the class until the first day of the semester as the individual professors were able to choose their own subject. I was lucky to find out we would be doing fairytales, folklore, and myths which are some of my favorite types of storytelling.

What is a folklore?

So, what is folklore? During my trip to Iceland, we heard plenty of folklore stories which I often found myself falling asleep to, not because it was boring, but because of how they were told (Dramamine might have helped as well lol). It was as if a nicely warmed blanket was wrapped around me, and I was given a cup of hot chocolate while listening.

When folklore is read or spoken out loud there is an age to it. By this I mean a generational feeling of ancestry and informal back story. This is because folklore is shared from one generation to the next which contain beliefs or customs found in the surrounding community. There is a familiar connection with the stories even if they are considered lore.

Folklore is not something you can really study but something you must experience. Main characters are of the human race but contain magical beings and animals. Stories often have the characters going on a journey of transformation or learning how to outsmart the evil creature.

Even though I might not have shared the same customs and beliefs the Nordics did during those times there is a connection of our own we can relate to when hearing these stories.

What is a myth?

A myth on the other hand, is something you will never be able experience as the stories are often filled with exaggeration with beings who are out of this world. A myth is often times associated with the beginning of time and how things came to be mostly based around the supernatural such as gods or demigods.

There is an unfamiliarity to these legendary tales but a sense of wonderment and awe that makes people wish the world was set during those times. Even though often beginning with a real person or event, the connection of often lost when the extra elements are brought into play.

What is similar about the two stories?

Often times you will find magic or transformation of some sort making the tales enthralling to listen to. You will also notice similar plotting structures such as the rule of three where the main character must go through three trials before succeeding or failing on their journey.

Can You Write Your Own Folklore or Myth?

Like I mentioned above, folklore cannot be studied, but experienced. The same goes for writing. You can come up with a story of your own with the current customs and beliefs, but until it's passed on generation to generation your story will just be another fairytale.

Myths on the other hand, are an extreme form of exaggeration based on a real person or event meaning you can take a piece of yours or somebody else's life and create an entire story around it.

This is exactly what we did in my literature class. For extra credit, we were to write a myth based on our lives and read it out loud to the class. See below my very exaggerated and cringy myth about The Rising of the Sun.


The Rising of the Sun

It once was wrapped in complete and udder darkness. The Earth that is. A place where nothing could be seen and very few went. The moon and the stars had heard tales of this dark planet and decided to see if it was true. After traveling years through the universe, they finally stumbled upon the earth without light. Seeing the joy they brought to the world, with what little light they emitted, they decided to give the world a gift, a baby girl.

The baby girl was born with rays of bright light brighter than the stars and the moon had ever seen before. They kept her away until she was old enough and finally, when it was time, they released her into the world of darkness where she would travel the planet and bring light to the ones in need of it.

Years had gone by, and the baby girl the stars and the moon had once watched over, became known as the Lady of the Sun. She traveled the world bringing light to where there was dark and giving hope to the ones who could not see.

She had been traveling down a forest path and stumbled upon an opaque palace where she decided to shed some of her light. After knocking at the door, her response was answered with two young men. Taylorus, the brother who had the strength of a thousand men, and Jonas, the brother who had a voice of an angel, invited her inside.

The brothers were so overtaken by Sun, they asked her to stay and live with them. Sun, who had never had a home of her own, took the opportunity and for months lived with the brothers without any problems. The days she did not travel, to share her light, the brothers kept her entertained with Jonas singing lullabies while Taylorus showed off his strength. Little did Sun know both brothers had fallen in love with her.

Fighting erupted between the two brothers and when they could take no more, they asked her for who she loved. But she would not choose because she did not love them the way they loved her. That is when the brothers decided if they couldn’t have her no one could. So, they came up with a plan.

That night Jonas sang Sun into a deep sleep and once she was in the land of dreams Taylorus took her from her bed. He brought her to the edge of the palace cliff where it plunged into the cold nothingness. Jonas and Taylorus said their goodbyes to Sun with a soft kiss. Then, Taylorus walked to the cliff’s edge and released Sun to the bowels of the earth.

But to the brother’s surprise, Sun began rising and the higher she advanced the brighter her rays shone. To the sky she went where the stars and the moon waited for her arrival. The sky was her home and there she could be loved by everyone and everything. To this day, Sun still shines her rays down upon us.


Final Thoughts

What did you think of my myth? Pretty cheesy uh? Considering it got me a few points of extra in class I think it did its job.

Tell me in the comments below how you think I exaggerated the story. Do you believe I had two gorgeous men throwing me off a cliff? Write a 2-3 sentence myth about your life in the comments below. What customs and beliefs to do hope to send on to the next generation that one day may become a folklore?

Also tell me if you'd rather read a folklore or a myth and do you often get them confused? Don't forget there will be more on folklore next week during my book review of Nordic Folklore.

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