Art Prints

The Art of … Folklore

Folklore is understood to be a group of oral traditions and knowledge on a variety of subjects held by a particular group, typically passed from person to person by word of mouth. Merriam-Webster defines it as traditional customs, tales, sayings, dances, or art forms preserved among a people – giving particular attention to the word preserve. Because that is what it’s all about: tales, lore (learning, knowledge), oral history, mythology, fables, traditions … myths … costumes, art, music ….

Where I was born, in Belgium, there is a rich cultural heritage. I could go on and on about our customs and traditions, starting with the world’s best French fries served in their pointy paper bags (they are actually not French but originated in Belgium – a widely disputed fact among the French of course 😉 but quite well explained in a National Geographic article.) to the popular celebrations during Easter week. Belgian carnival is steeped in history and folklore, with several celebrations dating more than 500 years, one of the most famous ones being the one in the town of Binche.

Gilles - CC Wikimedia Commons

Other cities, such as La Louvière, have a tradition of Gilles at the carnival as well, with high participation of the people. Right here, the word folklore comes to mind. (while in Greek the meaning of the name Gilles is: Shieldbearer, the Gilles does not wear a shield) Unlike their neighbors to the North, whose carnival celebrations fi