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By Jacqueline Simpson

With 1250 entries starting from dragons to mom Goose, could Day to Michaelmas, this enthralling dictionary unfurls the colourful background at the back of the vacations, customs, legends, and superstitious ideals of britain. Ever ask yourself why we kiss less than the mistletoe at Christmas or imagine a rabbit's foot brings reliable good fortune? folklore gurus offer trustworthy and sometimes superb solutions to those and different curiosities that experience formed everyday life in England for hundreds of years. They discover the fairs and prior celebrations of the English calendar, from St. Andrews Day and its culture of drunkenness and cross-dressing to 12th evening and its king and queen cake. in addition they offer concise graphics of actual and mythical characters that populate the general public reminiscence, together with Robin Hood, The Brothers Grimm, woman Godiva, Puck, and The Sandman. Fairies, mermaids, hobgoblins, and changelings are yet some of the supernatural forces surveyed the following. even if, as folklore encompasses the mundane in addition to the wonderful, a variety of different entries light up the importance of colours, numbers, flora, animals, and family items. research the curious heritage in the back of our mistrust of the "black sheep," renowned credence in "wishbone" needs, people treatments for nosebleeds and warts, and protracted outdated other halves' stories. as well as old and medieval folklore, you'll find many modern city legends, e.g., the vanishing hitchhiker--a spooky determine obvious ominously by means of tourists in Britain and the United States--and the the teeth Fairy. An exciting source, The Dictionary of English Folklore might be a desirable significant other for readers of English literature, background, cultural reports, and myth.

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Treasure legends are numerous, encouraged no doubt by occasional finds of prehistoric gold, and of money buried in later centuries for safety; local names such as Money Hills (Hampshire), Goldenlow (Bedfordshire), and Dragonhoard (Oxfordshire) refer to this, even where the tale itself has been forgotten. But it was also thought that to dig into a mound brought supernatural retribution, either immediately in the form of violent thunderstorms or fearsome apparitions, or in long-term bad luck and illness; tales about this seem to be particularly common in Devon.

Until recently, there was a cave called Black Annis’s Bower in the Dane Hills on the outskirts of Leicester, a local beauty spot and the scene, from 1668 till 1842, of an Easter Monday fair with sports and draghunting. It was said that long ago a skin-clad, blue-faced ogress with ‘vast talons, foul with 24 human flesh’ had lurked there, preying on sheep and children. A light-hearted poem of the late 18th century mentions her, in a way which implies that the story was well known; other writers give the more likely names ‘Anna’ or ‘Anny’.

Once the practical aspects of the perambulations faded, and the ceremonial became increasingly meaningless, most of them died out, although there are still sporadic revivals, especially at the time of centenary celebrations or other important local dates. A handful of places still perform the custom on a regular basis, including St Mary the Virgin and St Michael in the Northgate (both in Oxford) and the Liberty of the Tower of London. Shuel, 1985: 103–6; Kightly, 1986: 49; Angus Winchester, Discovering Parish Boundaries (1990).

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