What is Folklife?
The everyday and intimate creativity that all of us share and pass on to the next generation:
The traditional songs we sing, listen and dance to
Fairy tales, stories, ghost tales and personal histories
Riddles, proverbs, figures of speech, jokes and special ways of speaking
Our childhood games and rhymes
The way we celebrate life
– from birthing our babies to honoring our dead
The entire range of our personal and collective beliefs
– religious, medical, magical and social
Our handed-down recipes and everyday mealtime traditions
The way we decorate our world
– from patchwork patterns on our quilts to plastic flamingos in our yards, to tattoos on our bodies
The crafts we create by hand
– crocheted afghans, wooden spoons, cane bottoms on chairs
Patterns and traditions of work
– from factory to office cubicle
The many creative ways we express ourselves as members of our family, our community, our geographical region, our ethnic group, our religious congregation, or our occupational group
Folklife is part of everyone’s life. It is as constant as a ballad, as changeable as fashion trends. It is as intimate as a lullaby, and as public as a parade.
In the end, we are all folk.
The American Folklife Center
The Library of Congress