Folk Custom

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Chapter OneA General Introduction to Folk Customs

1. Folk customs: a definition
Folk customs, or folk ways, comprise the part of cultural life that people of a country or nation have created, practiced and transmitted in their endeavors to satisfy their needs at various stages of their history and society. Deep-rooted in the cultural life of a community, folk customs are passed down from generation to generation in a temporal dimension and spread from one place to another in a spatial dimension. In the history of human society, folk customs have evolved from naught to existence, from simple to complex. In primitive society, a common folk custom was to eat animal flesh raw and drink its blood and to live in caves or hollows. With the development of society, the material life, the related organizational forms of social life, wedding ceremonies, funerals, and etiquettes came into being, and by and by they are established as folkways, or folk customs. In China, for instance, chopsticks are used at meals, which is a Chinese folk custom. Northerners eating jiaozi and southerners eating rice cakes in Chinese New Year Festival, all people eating moon-cakes on Mid-Autumn Day and greeting each other with “Have you eaten?” are all Chinese folk customs. Folk customs are shared and practiced by members of a nation in their daily life. There are folk customs governing the daily life of people, traditional festivals, various stages of life, as well as ideological aspects of social life. The various taboos in life are highly ideological. For example, the taboo against sweeping the floor from December 30 to January 2 on the Chinese lunar calendar resulted from the folk belief that this would affect the luck of wealth in the coming year. Some folk customs, as they originated from religious beliefs, carry a strong religious flavor by laying down rules for marriages, wedding funerals, and diet of believers. Every nation has some folk customs, ways of life or...
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