What is Folk Culture?

There are various types of culture found around the world, although there are many that only know pop culture, which is the kind of culture that is created through various forms of entertainment, like movies, TV shows, and music, and is particularly aimed towards a younger audience. While pop culture is quite popular, there is one kind of culture that is often considered obscure or forgotten, and this one is called folk culture. So, what is folk culture? Let us find out more about it as we get the details about folk culture and its origins.

What is Folk Culture?

Folk culture is a term that is used to describe a collection of practices or products that are connected to the history and culture of social groups that are located in rural locations. So, people in rural areas or provinces would usually have a folk culture, and this culture consists of the practices that they do traditionally, as well as the products they manufacture, produce, or sell in their area.

Folk culture has a very wide definition, but all in all, it is used to define the history and culture of a social group that isn’t affected by urban culture and is supposed to be closer to nature or their past. The things that can be classified as part of folk culture include clothing, habits, diet, religion, opinions, worldviews, social rules, farming processes, and production processes that are all found within one small social group in a rural area.

The Origins of Folk Culture

The term “folk culture” is believed to have been developed during the early 20th century, specifically when researchers and historians have developed the word “folk” to describe people that are not influenced by the modern world and still living life using past practices and traditions that have survived for many years. Folk culture would then be utilized to describe the practices and traditions of folk groups.

The terms would become obscure within the English language for several decades before it was revived in the 1950s in an effort to increase the significance or popularity of folk practices and traditions that may have been forgotten if the modern world is given more focus. Through numerous studies and analyses, the folk cultures of various social groups around the world were given more prominence in history by the 20th century.

American Folk Culture

In an effort to preserve the rich history and culture of the United States or North America, researchers have determined several American folk cultures that are still surviving and are being preserved by various social groups not only in rural areas but in urban areas as well. Here are the best examples of American folk culture that we can provide.

Louisiana Creole Cuisine

The Louisiana Creole cuisine is a unique style of cooking that originated in the US state of Louisiana and was developed by the Creole community, which is a group of people that served as the descendants of French colonial Louisiana in the 1800s. The said cuisine combines the best elements of French, Spanish, Amerindian, and West African cuisines to form tasty dishes that are vastly different from the ones that were developed by other social groups within North America.

Hawaiian Hula

The Hawaiian hula, also known simply as hula, is a form of dance that was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians, which are people that lived within the subregion of Oceania. The hula dance is often accompanied by a song called “mele” that is played on a ukulele or a chant called “oli,” and those that participate in the dance would usually wear the “pāʻū,” which is a wrapped skirt typically made from plastic strips or the leaves of native trees in Hawaii.

The Cakewalk Dance

The cakewalk was a dance that was originally created for a dance contest wherein the winner would be awarded a cake. The dance was developed by slaves in the black slave plantations before and after the emancipation or freedom of these slaves in the southern portions of the United States. The cakewalk dance is traditionally danced with a partner, although it eventually transformed into a freeform dance that can be performed solo or with a group.


The tepee, also known as the teepee or tipi, is a tent that is shaped like a cone and is described as a “lodge” in old English writings or works. The tepee is primarily made of wooden poles that serve as its foundation, and the poles are then covered traditionally by animal skins that serve as the walls and the roof. This house was developed by the indigenous people of North America, specifically those that lived in the Great Plains and the Canadian Prairies of the continent.


Quilting is a process that involves creating a multi-layered textile called quilt, which is often composed of two or three layers of fabric that will provide warmth during the colder temperatures in North America. Quilting is said to have originated in the United States, where numerous colonies created quilts out of necessity since the colder winters of the country would not be survivable without thick and warm pieces of clothing or accessories. The quilts are then made from local fabrics since fabrics that are imported are considered more expensive.

Pow Wow

The pow wow or powwow is a sacred social gathering that is held by various indigenous communities in North America. The social gathering consists of dances, meetups, singing, and socializing with different members of one indigenous social group. Traditionally, there is a dance competition held at every pow wow, and the winner of the competition will receive money as a reward. The pow wow can last for about one week, although there are some that only last one day.

Those are the details and pieces of information that you should know about the folk culture, particularly its definition, origins, and the different folk cultures found in North America. There are many more folk cultures in different countries around the world, and if you want to know more about those, you should travel and go to these countries or do some research about the history and culture of various cities or nations.