Folk religion  

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Triumph of Christianity by Tommaso Laureti (1530-1602), ceiling painting in the Sala di Constantino, Vatican Palace. Images like this one celebrate the destruction of ancient pagan culture and the victory of Christianity.
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Triumph of Christianity by Tommaso Laureti (1530-1602), ceiling painting in the Sala di Constantino, Vatican Palace. Images like this one celebrate the destruction of ancient pagan culture and the victory of Christianity.

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Folk religion consists of beliefs, superstitions and rituals transmitted from generation to generation in a specific culture. It could be contrasted with an organized religion or historical religion in which founders, creed, theology and ecclesiastical organizations are present. In contrast, ethnic religion refers to the religious practices particular to a certain ethnicity. Folk religion and ethnic religion alike are characterized by the absence of proselytization, membership being, as a rule, equivalent to ethnicity.

The folk religion with the largest number of adherents is the Chinese folk religion, accounting for some 6% of world population. Various "primal indigenous" religions (animism, shamanism) account for another 4%, but elements of folk religion exist as part of all religious traditions and should be regarded as popular currents (as opposed to a theological or institutionalized) rather than as separate religions, so that folk religion, like superstition, is a phenomenon present in every society.

Folk belief

In folkloristics, folk belief or folk-belief is a broad genre of folklore that is often expressed in narratives, customs, rituals, foodways, proverbs, and rhymes. It also includes a wide variety of behaviors, expressions, and beliefs. Examples of concepts included in this genre are magic, popular belief, folk religion, planting signs, hoodoo, conjuration, charms, root work, taboos, old wives' tales, omens, portents, the supernatural and folk medicine.

Folk belief and associated behaviors are strongly evidenced among all elements of society, regardless of education level or income. In turn, folk belief is found in an agricultural, suburban, and urban environments alike.

Terminology

One of a variety of compounds extending from the coinage of the term folklore in 1846 (previously popular antiquities), the term folk-belief is first evidenced in use by British folklorist Laurence Gomme in 1892.


Common parlance employs the word superstition for what folklorists generally refer to as folk belief. A proponent of this conceptualization includes Alan Dundes, the American folklorist who proposed that the term as superstition denote traditional expressions that have conditions and results, signs and causes. There are also those who include in the term's coverage the belief narratives such as legends, which are differentiated from folktales in the sense that they are believable for telling stories about human beings who lived in the recent past.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Folk religion" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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