Family Folklore encompasses so much, but it usually starts by looking at family stories and customs that are often passed down from one generation to the next. Those stories typically present themselves as a way of life and belief for each member of a family unit, as well as the family as a whole. This can expand to close friends and neighbors as well. It would be common to share these thoughts, beliefs, and stories around a camp fire, after the day’s work was done.
For a long time, oral history and traditions were the main avenue that family history passed from one generation to the ones that came after. While this is still true today, there has also been a lot of change and innovation. There is this sense of preservation like never before that has prompted the recording of family history and lore. Many people now realize how much we have lost as a result of not having a written account of not just the past, but how and when the past has shaped each generation. This is especially true in literature.
In science fiction and fantasy, specifically, more and more folklore and mythology is becoming prominent, though it has always been there. Fictional lore can be created to give depth and details to the fictional cultures that the author is creating. Readers want to know how and why the characters came to be the people that they are, which includes a sense of back story, family history, and folklore. Humans are naturally curious and that works well with literature, as well as understanding ourselves and the people around us.
The Twilight Saga is a series of four books, written by Stephenie Myer. The books were adapted into five different movies that took America by storm between 2008 and 2012, though the fandom still continues on today. The third movie, Eclipse, has a great scene showcasing folklore, though the entire saga is full of family history and folklore.
When people think of folklore, they often think of the supernatural—much like I talked about in this post, with all types of mythological creatures. But folklore is more than just the supernatural and fictitious realm. The author, Stephenie Myer, did a great job in her books, and worked closely with the production of the movies, to portray the fictional, contemporary world she created. While the Quileute Nation is a real people group in the real setting of La Push, Washington—the origin story and mythology are, of course, purely fictionalized.
In the scene I mentioned above, Billy Black, played by actor Gil Birmingham, begins the council meeting at a bonfire gathering with the comment, “The Quileutes has been a small tribe from the beginning. But we have always had magic in our blood.” This shows where folklore and mythology are intertwined though they are separate as well. The line between folklore and mythology is subjective. The mythology here, is a type of creation story—with where the wolves in the Twilight Saga originate from or how they came to be, in a sense. The fact that not all Quileutes have the werewolf gene also plays a part in the mythology and folklore surrounding the storyline.
The story that Billy Black told was about the tribes history and how it affects them today, in the world created by Myers. The scene shows that the younger members of the tribe are not aware of the history until now, when the story is being told to them for the first time. The saga depicts that only the members who have the werewolf gene and who have phased, receive the secrets of the tribe. Though there are certainly legends and old wives tales being told on the reservation. One example of this is when Jacob Black was shown talking to Bella about the Cold Ones, in the first movie, though he didn’t know that there were any truths to it.
This scene with Jacob, Bella, and the rest of the tribe also shows how the lore is passed on, and that it is continually evolving and changing. This is apparent as we learn that Bella is the first outsider to hear the stories.
Family Folklore looks at stories and customs that define the family as a group. Folklore emerges out of the cultures and beliefs of everyday people which reflect their culture and way of life. Every family has a history, do you know what yours is? I’d love to hear about it. Do you have a favorite fireside story? Memory? What movie can you think of that also resembles folklore? Share your thoughts and ideas so we can all engage in the lovely diversity that makes us—us!