Tag Archives: American folklore


This informant talked about one of the most famous cryptids to roam the Earth, Bigfoot. This legendary figure fascinates people to this day with its mysterious presence in the American Pacific Northwest. According to my informant, the legend of Bigfoot dates back centuries to accounts from Native American tribes who told stories about a giant ape-like creature who lived in the wilderness. There have been “sightings” in more recent times however many of them are dismissed as hoaxes and misidentifications. In our world today Bigfoot has become a pop culture icon, appearing in a variety of media from documentaries to horror movies. The draw to Bigfoot is the mystery surrounding the creature. Bigfoot stands as a challenge to understand our natural world, sparking the curiosity of millions. 

My informant’s connection to the legendary figure comes from a deep rooted fascination with cryptids of all sorts. From a young age, they were drawn to the mystery which shrouds the creature. First learning of the creature from tales their father told them, my informant spent countless hours scouring all kinds of databases searching for answers which still remain unknown. 

I believe that the legend of Bigfoot provides a rich tapestry of North American folklore and expresses a firm message of cultural symbolism. As my informant stated, the legend of Bigfoot comes from oral traditions within Native American tribes. Over time these stories evolved to reflect common cultural beliefs. Something which makes Bigfoot such a notable figure in the world of cryptids is the sheer number of reported sightings and encounters. Many sightings are dismissed as hoaxes and fakes however some remain purely unexplainable, fueling speculation. Within the ever growing expansion of civilized America, Bigfoot symbolized the untamed wilderness capturing the imagination of many.

Paul Bunyan

According to my informant, Paul Bunyan is an American legend who hails from the lumbar camps of North America. Even his birth was legendary, as it took five storks to deliver him. From his birth, he grew exponentially, growing to enormous heights and proportions. As he grew up he accomplished a number of impressive feats. Notable adventures include carving out the Grand Canyon himself and creating the American Great Lakes. Paul Bunyan has a special companion, a blue ox named Babe who helps Bunyan level forests. According to my informant these stories are obvious exaggerations, however there is a humor to the absurdity of Paul Bunyan who defies the law of physics. 

This informant’s relationship to Paul Bunyan was through grade school. My informant’s middle school messaged Paul Bunyan to be a larger-than-life lumberjack who is said to have performed incredible feats. Paul Bunyan continues to be used as a reminder of the American spirit to my informant.

The legend of Paul Bunyan originates from the lumber camps in North America, similar to the alleged birth of the figure. The Red River Lumber Company is credited with the publication of Bunyan through advertising pamphlets. The publicity grew and the large persona of Bunyan eventually became a symbol for the grandeur and vastness of the American wilderness rather than a marketing tactic for a lumber company. The absurd feats of Paul Bunyan transcend human capability, symbolizing the limitless potential of America and its citizens. By embodying themes such as individualism, resourcefulness, and imagination, Paul Bunyan is a direct symbol for the triumphs which were pushed by American expansionism. 

Johnny Appleseed

This informant discussed a legendary figure from American history who left a permanent impact on American folklore. According to my informant, Johnny Appleseed grew up on the eastern coast and forged his way across the country. Following the common cultural belief of manifest destiny, Johnny Appleseed embarked on his personal mission; to plant apple orchards throughout the expanding American frontier. He had a very distinct appearance, usually wearing a tin pot as a hat as well as a sack of apple seeds over his shoulder. Johnny Appleseed spread prosperity for future generations, traveling across terrain of all varieties. He was known as someone with a very kind heart with a gentle soul and a special connection to nature.

My informant’s relationship to Johnny Appleseed stems from teachings of early elementary school. In elementary school, Johnny Appleseed, also known as John Chapman, is taught as a folk hero who is said to have traveled across the American frontier planting apple seeds, spreading the cultivation of apple trees, and promoting good deeds.

Personally, I believe that the legend of Johnny Applessed is a classic example of American folklore. The original story of Johnny Appleseed emerges from a time of westward expansion in America, mid to late 19th century. As settlers ventured into the vast wilderness of the west, they kept to them a goal of cultivating the land into civilization. Johnny Appleseed embodies a symbol of the spirit of America, embarking on his personal journey to plant apple orchards across the unknown frontier. Johnny Appleseed’s mission serves as another symbol by providing sustenance for the future generations and a promise for a better future. Johnny Appleseed ascended to the status of a folk hero due to the kindness and generosity he expressed on his journeys. His legend has been passed down through generations and will continue to be passed down as he fulfills the human need for American heroes and legends.

Hotel Del Coronado ghost sighting


Informant: So, there’s a hotel down in San Diego, it’s a very famous hotel, called the Hotel Del Coronado. It’s an older hotel, and so, a while ago, the company I was with was doing some work there. I went there early and the workers were going to do work at night. So it was evening time and I was walking around, going downstairs and going around the shops and everything, going up into the lobby- if you’ve ever been to the Hotel Del Coronado, it’s just this beautiful place, very old, lots of history. Of course, the rumor is that it’s a haunted hotel. But you never expect to see anything, but you still have it in the back of your mind that something could happen there. So, I was going through the lobby and I was going to go downstairs to where there were some shops, and I was walking downstairs, and there were people walking up the stairs. And as I’m walking down the stairs, this transparent wisp of something just passes right in front of me. And I look at the guy in the stairway who’s walking up, and his eyes are huge. And he looks at me, and I look at him, and I said “did you see that?” And he goes “Oh yeah, I saw that.” And then we just kept walking.

Interviewer: How much of the hotel’s history were you aware of before this?

Informant: Well, not deep into the history, but just the notion that there’s probably a lot of ghost stories. But nothing in particular that I knew of. But yeah, like I said, when you walk into something with that kind of history, you kind of know something going on. But the fact that it wasn’t just me, but myself and a total stranger, that we both saw it, is just… scary for me.


As mentioned in the account, the informant was working at the hotel as part of their job. They were born and grew up in the United States.


Ghost stories have a habit of taking places in older locations and those with a lot of history. As Ulo Valk puts it, they are figures from the past who uncannily appear in the “wrong” setting. That being said, there isn’t a lot to go off of in terms of the story itself.

As the hotel is rather old, there is quite a bit of history behind it, and its own history of haunting. Kate Morgan, who took her own life in the hotel in 1892, is the main subject of ghost stories, with her death being where the ghost sightings began. Some guests noting flickering electricity, changes in room temperature, unexplained sounds, and breezes from nowhere. Very few guests, however, seem to note an actual present sighting of the figure, which makes this account far more unique. If I had to guess on an “explanation” for the event, it could very well be a result of the informant being tired, as indicated by this taking place during a work trip, and the general “aura” of the hotel itself potentially affecting the teller and other person’s perception. After all, if you expect to see ghosts in a hotel, you are more likely to see ghosts.

Tooth Fairy – American Folk Ritual

1. Text

When asked to share a folk belief, the informant responded with the following:

“The tooth fairy is a mythical creature that is very familiar to American children. They are taught that the tooth fairy will exchange their lost teeth for some kind of prize if they put them under their pillow before going to bed. Parents will often come in while the child is sleeping and swap the tooth out for a small gift, usually money, to make it look like the tooth fairy came.”

2. Context

Informant relation to the piece:

Informant learned the ritual from hearing kindergarten classmates talk about losing teeth. Informant is currently a college student. Informant is American and grew up in the states. They mentioned that at a “young enough age everyone believed in the tooth fairy” and was “upset when they realized that she isn’t real”. The ritual made the informant “excited to lose teeth” because it meant that they would get a gift that night. They realized the tooth fairy was not real around 8 years old when they caught their dad putting money under their pillow.

Informant interpretation of the piece:

The informant has no idea where the ritual originated, and suggests that maybe it started as a way to keep kids from being scared of losing baby teeth.

3. Analysis

The American folk ritual of the tooth fairy is tied to a life cycle event of aging where children lose their baby teeth and grow adult ones that last for the rest of their lives. This ritual is not tied to a specific time or date, but rather whenever a child loses a baby tooth. It also only happens for a limited amount of times before the child loses all their baby teeth. Since most children go through this process of losing teeth, it is a common and widespread ritual for American families. This ritual is mainly a form of deception from the parents to the children as they create a mythical figure called the tooth fairy to create a sense of magic and wonder in the children that they associate with losing teeth. This seemingly harmless form of deception or fictional storytelling from parents can also be observed in rituals such as Santa Claus bringing presents on Christmas Eve. This is interesting when compared to some Asian cultures which originally did not perform rituals such as the tooth fairy and Santa Claus. In Japan, when a child loses a baby tooth, they either throw it up on the roof or bury it in the dirt. There is no reward for losing the tooth like in the American Tooth Fairy ritual however it symbolizes the child maturing and wishing for good fortune and health for the child. In comparison the Japanese ritual does not involve deception from the parents as the American one does. Perhaps this speaks to how the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus act as a rite of passage for Americans, where most children believe in the mythical figures until a certain age and must deal with the realization that they were deceived by their parents, which motivates them to continue to pass down this rite of passage to their children. In a way this form of deception encapsulated in the tooth fairy ritual represents the loss of naivety and gaining of maturity when a child grows up. Since growing up often means learning a lot of unpleasant faces of the world, the tooth fairy ritual can act as a vaccine or initial exposure to American children in preparation for adulthood.