There is a life outside the big society we live in. The rural places of the world have their own beautiful traditions and norms that the majority of us aren’t aware of. But don’t worry, we will tell you all about it and then give you the 10 best examples of folk culture to make you understand it in full detail.
What is Folk Culture?
Folk culture is the traditions of isolated groups who live in harmony away from the big societies. They have a beautiful culture that the majority of us are unaware of. Their culture is called the folk culture because it has not become mainstream and is practiced by a group of homogenous people. It is either in the far-flung areas they live in, away from the world, or migrated then in a small homogenous group they practice there. Make sure that while trying to understand Folk Culture, you must have a strong grip on Culture Integration.
It is good to know the difference between folk and popular culture. Popular culture is practiced in a large society consisting of heterogeneous groups. An example would be Mcdonald’s or a pair of jeans, anyone can wear them, and it is not confined to one specific country but the whole world. An example of folk culture is the Amish culture. Their men wear clothes that are always dark in color, and lighter colors are forbidden, they wear plain suits that have no collars or pockets, and for them, this is a sign of modesty, and it is part of their religion.
Now let’s take you to the 10 best examples of folk culture.
Examples of Folk Culture
This might seem like chocolate to you but it is not. This is called naswar, and it is a drug used mainly in the Pashtun belt of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This is very culture-specific and cheap; thus, in these poor third-world societies, it is prevalent. It provides you a euphoric feeling for half an hour.
Naswar is made in small factories in Pakistan. The factories are a size of a small cubicle where 2 to 3 workers manufacture them. It is made using lime, tobacco, menthol, and water. There is an urban myth that they use chicken poop in, but it is not true.
Naswar is sold in small packets of polythene and with little to no branding at all. Each packet costs $0.13 and can last you 2 days comfortably. Naswar from the packet is taken out and it is rolled into small balls, and then you slide it under your lip or stuff it inside your cheeks.
It is an example of folk culture from India. Bindi is a red dot that women from the Hindu religion wear between their eyebrows. It represents history, religion, and the mystic world. It has also become a fashion symbol, and slowly, it is creeping into other countries, where non-Hindu women wear it. There is a general misconception that it is only for women, but Hindu men historically have used bindi.
Bindi is made out of turmeric, and it is red but its, color can fade, and there are other variations of it. Tumeric in the subcontinent is considered holy and it is said to have many medicinal and spiritual benefits. Turmeric is also an ingredient used to keep bad spirits away.
Bindi is a great example of a folk culture that is made fun of if an Indian woman wears it in the USA but it holds many benefits. First of all, the place where you put the bindi on has many important nerves passing through it. It thus clears your sinus, enhances your hearing, keeps your skin clear as the trigeminal nerve passes through here. It can be a point on which you concentrate while doing meditation or yoga and beyond this, there are many benefits of this mere dot.
Hindu women have been wearing this since the 3rd and the 4th century. It represents harmony, purity, love, and honor. It is also a sign that the girl or the woman is married. But above all, it was thought to preserve your intelligence and it was the sign of high intellect, which is why in the past, Hindu men wore it.
In the Hindu religion, many of their goddesses wore this and it is said that it was linked to unleash the power of a third eye. Which gave them powers out of this world. Thus it means a lot to the religious Hindu women, because of their love and affiliation for their religion and their gods.
3. Russian Diminutives
In the rest of the cultures, we produce nicknames but in Russia, they use diminutives. We all know that the Russians have very long names that are very hard to pronounce or spell for us and even the Russians are aware of it and they don’t go and call each other by their full names. They have made it convenient by the use of diminutives. This is an interesting folk culture and it is not very easy to explain but we will try our best to get you a general idea in easy words.
Most Russians have diminutive and the full names are reserved for official documents only. They add “sha” to the initial syllable of the names; for example, Mikhail becomes Misha, Maria becomes Masha, and so on. There are different mechanisms like this to create diminutive, and most Russians know them. We only gave the example of one way of doing it. Still, this mechanism is so complex that it will take many hours to explain it in detail but just know that many Russians are aware of it. For example, the diminutive of Alexander is Sasha and everyone there knows it.
Diminutives were altered after the first communist revolution. The communist leaders created diminutives that paid tribute to the great communist women and men. But things turned a bit humorous when diminutives were used that meant blast furnace or industry etc yet were given to humans.
Hogmanay is the Scottish way of celebrating the new year. It starts on the eve of the new year and there are very bizarre traditions that you need to know and it will give you an idea of how diverse the folk culture can be.
1. Redding the house
In many cultures cleaning the house before a traditional event is very important and holds symbolic value. The same is the case in the Scottish culture before the events of Hogmanay. The Scotts clean their houses but particular importance is placed on the fireplace. The way the fireplace is cleaned is very vital and the patterns after cleaning the ashes of the fireplace are read and the n associated with good or bad omens.
2. First Footing
It is a very bizarre tradition that many people see as a way to have to agree on whiskey or a shot of alcohol from you. Basically, what happens is that a person goes to his or her neighbor’s house at the stroke of midnight and when he sets foot in the house, he is given free whiskey or alcohol. In return, the visitor brings a special Scottish fruit cake or a bun with himself. The first visitor is thought o bring good or bad luck to your house, which is very important to the traditional Scottish people.
3. Bonfires and fires
There are big bonfires in which the whole community participates. The roots of this can be traced to the times of the Vikings, for whom fire had a symbolic value, and it is also taught to drive evil spirits away. They also wrap animal skins around a stick, and they set it on fire as it is a method that helps drive away from the evil spirits. In areas near Aberdeen giant fireballs are swung by men and them in a big parade with all the fire poles and the fireball move in the streets.
4. The blessing of the House
In this tradition, the house is blessed using holy water from streams. It has seen a revival in recent years after it was thought to have been abandoned by the Scotts. The Juniper tree branch is used to create smoke and the smoke is spread in all corners of the house. The windows and doors are closed, and the smoke is inhaled till all the family members start to cough hard. It is a sign that now everyone has been blessed and then fresh air is allowed to come into the house. This is one of the most bizarre examples of folk culture.
5. Rain Dance
The culture of the Native Americans has always come under scrutiny. Historically speaking rain dance is very important to these people and is a folk culture that has a history of being curbed by an external force. Rain Dance is done to seek the help of the gods and bring rain so the harvest in the season is good.
The Native Americans have always been considered backward and are a laughing stock for the advocates of the modern world in the United States. When the barbaric Indian Relocation Act of 1956 was accepted as a law, the traditions like rain dance were officially banned by the government of the USA. They were expected to merge into the general population and leave behind their rich history. Still, the natives found a workaround to this and held onto rain dancing by giving the impression that it was not a traditional dance.
The rain dance has a lot of details that we don’t really catch easily with a naked observation. First of all the feathers in the rain dance represents wind, the gemstones they use are a symbol of rain.
The Pueblo Indian Religion is very fascinating. They say that the dead among them become clouds, and they call them cloud people. Their dance draws the cloud people towards them, and then they gift the ceremony that is taking place in the form of rain.
Griots are basically historians and musicians who also have many stories to tell. As the world changes, these historians and storytellers vanished from our culture and were replaced by the internet and the TV. However, in some African villages, especially in Mali, there are men in villages called the Griots who still play this role, and it is the beauty of the folk culture.
Through oral communication, they have stored man historical figures and events from their predecessor in their minds, they don’t need complex gadgets like the laptop to store all this info. In villages, people go to them to listen to their special flute, that every griot has. They are mesmerized by the rich history and stories that the Griot have to convey.
Griots earn their living through this and also perform at weddings. Most Griots are on the move and don’t stay in one place. Historically Griots are mostly men but women can be Griots too. Griots have a rich history behind them; they were the storytellers and historians to the kings and played a major role in advising them as they are very intelligent. Though never compromise on free speech and free will and in their stories or poems, the Griots even criticized the kings of their time.
7. Ukai Fishing
It is an example of folk culture from Japan. In the city of Gifu, the Japanese fishermen use birds called Cormorant who catches Fish for them. it is not an easy way of fishing but it has been done here for centuries. The fishermen are the best of their trade and they make long wooden boats and it takes them years to train these birds who help them catch these fish.
You must be thinking that the birds locate the fish for them and then they take fishing equipment to catch them but it is not the case, the birds’ throats have a special bag fitted in them by the fishermen, and then they dive deep into the water and grab the fish for them. The bag is to collect the fish and to stop the bird from swallowing it. The fishermen this way catch a lot of fish.
This method of fishing is now discouraged because of animal rights violations and it being replaced by modern methods but still, it is practiced as a tourist attraction to earn money.
Chrysanthemum is a flower in China that is used to make a liquor called Gukjwaju. This liquor is not available throughout the year but in a specific season in the ninth lunar month. It is consumed with pancakes made from the Chrysanthemum. Jungyangjeol is a Chinese festival in which people want to attain positive energies from the sun and climb the mountains. On top of the mountain, these flowers were found and it is the historic reason for the association of this flower and the food made from it during this festival.
This flower is the sign of autumn in China and it is used for blessing and also it used during funerals as this flower is though the sign of rebirth. The color also matters, the red Chrysanthemum flower in Chinese folk culture means love, the yellow means sorrow, and the white means loyalty.
9. Kamba Culture:
In the Kamba tribe in Kenya, the grandfather considers his granddaughters as wives until they hit the age of puberty. The girls have to go to the grandfather and then he touches their chest to see if they have hit puberty or not and then gives them sweets. This is one of the weirdest folk cultures in the world but the tribe considers it normal and around the globe, this is not much known. If this happens in some other place, then there would be a big outrage because clearly, it falls in predatory behavior but it is accepted in Kamba.
Eloko in the African folk culture is a dwarf-like creature that lives in the trees. They are considered spirits of the people who lied in the forest in the bygone era. They believe that they hate the living beings and killing them is to settle this grudge they have. They have the rarest of the treasures and fruits that are unknown to men. They guard these with their lives and don’t let humans near them. Magic is something that experienced sorcerers have and it is sad that it is the only protection from Eloko. They are hairless and have grass instead of it; they have large pierced eyes and sharp teeth. Their jaw opens as wide as the height of a normal human, and they can gallop one with ease. They have little bells with them, that they use to cast a spell and a great magician can combat it with ease.
The world we live in is diverse, and there are people from different beliefs and customs. Some are very bizarre according to the standards of the modern world, some are outright barbaric yet accepted by the people of that culture, while some are fascinating, and the true essence of it tells us how some things are beyond modernity and science. The world is like a global village and this folk culture from a rural area will take no time to become pop culture if it gets the attention of the media.
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