Summer is quickly approaching. The sun stays high in the sky longer, warming up the earth for several months before making a seasonal change into Fall. Like many heavenly bodies, the sun, a big part of our summer celebrations, is the topic of much folklore. Each culture has its own myths, legends, stories and folk wisdom about how the sun first came to light up our skies. From escaping evil spirits to needing attention, the sun is a force in many folktales. Here are some examples of folklore about this ball of fire in the sky:
Siberia- One day the evil spirits of the land stole the sun out of the sky. The animals of the land stumbled around in the darkness looking for food and shelter. Finally, the wise raven called a council meeting to plan how to free the sun. The hare was sent to find the sun since he was the fastest in the group. The hare traveled for days until he found the hole where the evil spirits had hidden the sun. While the spirits were sleeping, the hare climbed down the crevice and stole the sun back from the evil spirits.
Cherokee - The sun was jealous of her brother the moon because the people liked him more. The sun got so angry she sent a fever to kill the people who looked at her funny. The sun traveled every day across the sky to see her daughter, so the people placed a poisonous snake at her daughter’s door to kill the sun. The snake bit the daughter instead and the sun was so distressed she refused to shine. To make the sun happy again the people danced in her honor. Today, the Cherokee Tribe continues to please the sun by performing the sun dance.
Tsimshian- The sky used to be completely dark according to Tsimshian legend. The chief of the land’s younger son, “One Who Walks All Over the Sky,” was sad at all the darkness. He decided to make a mask out of wood and light it on fire. Legend says that he travels across the sky every day wearing the mask to light up the sky.
Even with today’s scientific interpretations, the Sun remains a mysterious force of nature that people still try to understand. Folklore is one very useful and long-standing way to do that.