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Category: Legends

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

Folklore, Belief, and the Piltdown Man Hoax

Posted by: Stephanie Hall

Amateur archaeologist Charles Dawson and palaeontologist Sir Arthur Smith Woodward of the British Museum (now the British Natural History Museum) announced the startling discovery of an ancient human ancestor in Sussex in December 18, 1912. The skull of what Dawson named Eoanthropus dawsoni (Dawson’s dawn man), which came to be popularly known as the Piltdown Man, …

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

The Great American Sea Serpent

Posted by: Stephanie Hall

The 19th century saw an explosion of interest in sea serpents as well as other mysteries of nature in the United States and Europe. This was the dawn of an age when legend met science with the idea that science could solve ancient mysteries. One could say that we are still in that age, although …

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.

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

The Folklore and Folksong of Trains in America, Part Two

Posted by: Stephanie Hall

This is the second part of a two-part article on the folklore of trains. Part one, focusing on the development of railroads in the United States and related songs and lore can be found here. Part Two: Trains and American Culture The coming of the railroads made profound changes in life and culture in the …

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

The Folklore and Folksong of Trains in America, Part One

Posted by: Stephanie Hall

Part two of this article is available at this link. Part One:  The Development of the Railroads The advent of railroads in the United States is part of the country’s coming-of-age story as an industrial power during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Because of this, trains and people associated with the developing railways became …

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

Celebrating All the Molly Pitchers

Posted by: Stephanie Hall

On June 28, 1778, at the Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey, women brought aid to the wounded, assisted doctors as nurses, did laundry, made clothing, brought food and water to soldiers, brought more water to cool the cannons, and more. These were the most common tasks performed by the wives and families of the soldiers …

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

Belief, Legend, and the Great Moon Hoax

Posted by: Stephanie Hall

During the week of August 25, 1835, the world was treated to a fantastic story of scientific discoveries by the famous British astronomer, Sir John Herschel. He had realized the speculations of his father, astronomer Sir William Herschel, as he discovered life on the moon.[1]  Or so the readers of The New York Sun were …