Tag: folklife

Folklife: Cooking Up a Batch of Poke Salet Brings Fond Memories


You know the old saying, “You need poke salet to thin your blood and get you ready for the summer”? This spring tonic is a controversial nefarious weed. More than likely growing wild in your backyard, Pokeweed has been a southern delicacy for centuries.  You won’t find this weed on an official list of edible native plants.  This wild green comes with a warning label due to its relation to the nightshade plant.  But yet, every spring “poke salad” fanciers gather the young shoots despite the warning label.

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Food for the Soul: Growing Up in the Collard Culture


Collards are a unique vegetable that shares a common glory between black, white and Native American people. Collards are celebrated on all sides of the southern family table. Collards are the pearl of the Real South that unites us rather than divides us.

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Folklife: The Forgotten Custom of Women Proposing to Men During Leap Year

The custom of women proposing to men during Leap Year is traced back to a legend of St. Patrick. So girls get out your scarlet flannel petticoats and make a date with your local justice of the peace!  No worries fellas! You can blame the Scots for declaring it open season on bachelors.

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Folklife: The Ghostly Legend of Wicked John and the Devil

Storytelling has been a long-standing deep-rooted tradition with Appalachian families.  The pioneers of Appalachia developed an elaborate structure of folklore combined with various tales that were passed on orally from one generation to the next.  These oral histories were told to ensure the preservation of their community.

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Folklife: Creasy Greens and Leather Britches


The time-honored saying of “Kissing don’t last, cookery do!” seems to characterize our memories of the old ways of cooking in the South and Appalachia. 

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Folklife: The Faith Healing Tradition of “Talking Out the Fire”


My grandma Viola Brewington and Aunt Gaynelle Carter could “talk the fire out” of several burns I received as a child.  When I was a teenager, I asked Grandma Viola if she could show me how to do it.  She told me that the gift had to be handed down from a man.

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Appalachian Folklife: The Mysterious Vampire of Big Stone Gap


From Jack Tales to spooky stories, Wise County, Virginia is riddled with history and folklore from the early days of the pioneers through the coal boom after the Civil War.  The culmination of traditional folktales in Appalachia is the very thread that connects family roots.

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