One of the most interesting parts of learning about different cultures is hearing all of the different myths and folklore each populace has. There are bound to be mystical creatures and nightmarish horrors you’ve never dreamt of before with each new region you learn about.
Yet something that has captured the attention of many is just how many stories seem to repeat culture to culture, even ones that were separated by hundreds of thousands of miles. How could such wildly different and distant lands come up with the same stories? Perhaps there are more grains of truth in the tales than one might think, but even if it’s just a coincidence, here are 4 stories that are heard time and time again around the world.
1. Great Flood
It may be easier to count the number of cultures who don’t have a legend about a great flood than there are those who have one. Almost always the story goes that an almighty god or universal deity sends forth a massive flood to wipe away a now-ancient civilization, often as a punishment of some kind. After the sins of the past are swept away in the water, man began to rebuild once more.
There is, of course, the famous tale of Noah and his ark surviving the Christian God’s biblical flooding of the Earth, but such tales are also found in Greek mythology, Norse mythology, Mesopotamian tales, Hinduism, Chinese mythology, various Native American tribes, the Cañari of South Africa, and different aboriginal tribes across Australia.
2. Stealing Fire for Humanity
Mastering fire was one of the biggest triumphs for mankind, so it isn’t surprising that many cultures have grand tales centering around the beginnings. What is interesting is that so many of the stories involve fire being stolen, often from a jealous godlike creature, and whisked away for the benefit of humanity.
Numerous Native American tribes have tales of stolen fire, including the Cherokee and Algonquin peoples, though it is also echoed in Greek mythology, Norse mythology, Polynesian mythology, and various parts of Africa and Australia.
While they have graced the face of our television and movie screens for many recent years now, vampires have been a part of local folklore worldwide for centuries. Sometimes described as beautiful, but often described as vile monsters, bloodsucking creatures have haunted humanity’s nightmares for quite some time.
Though their description changes throughout the regions, tales of vampiric horrors can be found all across Europe, Africa, the Americas, and throughout the whole of Asia.
Who isn’t fascinated by dragons? These powerful, wise, gargantuan creatures are still the subject of many fantasy tales to this day, continuing to capture the public eye and the imagination of thousands. Be it the winged, four-footed beasts of western Europe or the lithe, rain bringing inhabitants of eastern Asia, dragons of all shape and sizes abound in cultural folklore.
Greece, Rome, and Germanic mythologies all include stories and descriptions of dragons, as do numerous areas throughout Europe and the Middle East. Both eastern and Western Asia also have many dragon legends, and Egyptian mythology includes dragonlike creatures as well.