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Category: Legends

The Royal Exchange in London, mid-19th century

The Legend of Monsieur Omnès

Posted by: Stephen Winick

This post examines the history of buses and of the word "bus," looking closely at a legend about a man named Omnes who was important in the naming of the "omnibus."

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

The Hair-Raising Tale of “The Witch Who Kept a Hotel”

Posted by: Stephen Winick

As we get closer and closer to Halloween, the Library of Congress feels spookier and spookier! Just look at the black cat in our Halloween graphic above! In fact, the Library has just released a new web guide to Halloween resources, which can be found here. The new web page will act as your guide through our rich …

A woman in 19th century attire with a basket and a rock hammer

She Sells Seashells and Mary Anning: Metafolklore with a Twist

Posted by: Stephen Winick

A little while back, the internet was abuzz with the inspirational story of Mary Anning, a pioneering 19th-century paleontologist from Lyme Regis in England. Some of my favorite blogs and magazines got in on the act: Atlas Obscura, QI (Quite Interesting), Dangerous Women, Cracked, and Forbes, to name just a few, published versions of the …

Headline proclaiming "Far Away Moses Dead" with a crawler stating "Mark Twain Shocked...Paul McCartney Tweets: 'Live and Let Die.'"

Fake News, Folk News, and the Fate of Far Away Moses

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Note: this is the fifth, and probably the last, post on Folklife Today concerning Far Away Moses, a nineteenth century Jewish guide and merchant whose face was the model for one of the “keystone heads” sculpted in stone on the outside of the Library of Congress’s Thomas Jefferson building. For the other posts about Moses, …

A man playing a guitar and singing to a close crowd of a dozen or so men and women

Memories of Alan Jabbour in the Field: Visiting the Hammons Family

Posted by: Stephen Winick

This recollection is in memory of the Center’s founding director, Alan Jabbour, who died on January 13, 2017, and whose career and contributions are described in this blog post.  Today’s text and photographs are by Carl Fleischhauer, a retired American Folklife Center staff member and a colleague of Alan’s for 46 years. Alan Jabbour and …

The Name of Far Away Moses

Posted by: Stephen Winick

Note: This is part of a series of posts about Far Away Moses, a fascinating celebrity of the 19th century, who served as the model for one of the keystone heads on the Thomas Jefferson Building.  Moses, a Sephardic Jew from Constantinople, knew some of the most prominent Americans of his era, including Theodore Roosevelt …

A fairy-like goddess plays a long pipe. A hare sits next to her on a mushroom, and a cherub and three more hares listen to her tune.

Ostara and the Hare: Not Ancient, but Not As Modern As Some Skeptics Think

Posted by: Stephen Winick

If you’re curious about modern holiday beliefs and calendar customs, you might be reading or doing research about them online. Chances are, you come across some stories that the presenters claim are ancient, and reach into the pre-Christian past. One popular story you might have seen recently involves the origin of the Easter Bunny. Essentially, …

On the Bunny Trail: In Search of the Easter Bunny

Posted by: Stephen Winick

The Easter Bunny, like Santa Claus, is the bringer of gifts on a popular American holiday. Throughout the country, the swift little creature is said to deliver decorated eggs to children on Easter. In some variants of this story, the bunny is even said to lay eggs, presenting a challenge to biology teachers everywhere! So what’s the story on this odd tradition? Let’s take a look. We'll examine claims that the Easter Bunny is related to a pagan goddess, Eostre or Ostara. We'll also look at the origin of the Easter Bunny in Pennsylvania Dutch and German traditions, including the Easter Hare.