Monday, March 20, 2017

The Great and Powerful A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal!

This is my 6th year participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, and my 3rd year co-hosting it. It has been tons of fun every time, and I am looking forward to what 2017 will bring to the A to Z community!
It has become a tradition over the years for participants to announce their themes for the Challenge at the end of March. That day is today! I once again have a theme - and yes, it is once again storytelling-related.


My theme for the 2017 A to Z Blogging Challenge is

WTF - Weird Things in Folktales

Vegetable lambs. They are a thing.
(Check out this artist)
I got the basic idea from browsing through the Thompson Motif Index. For those of you not folkloristically inclined: The Index is a list of motifs that have been sorted and numbered by American folklorist Stith Thompson, and first published in 1955. Folktale motifs are smaller building blocks you can find in traditional tales, myths, and legends around the world; you will find such things in the book as "A1010 - Deluge" (collecting all the myths that involve a flood), or "D1065.1 - Magic boots." The numbers help folklorists find all the stories that have that same element in them, compare them to each other, and see the larger patterns in world folklore. For practicing storytellers such as myself, the Motif-index is a godsend, helping us locate stories about specific things.

Since the motifs in the book are categorized in groups from A to Z, I thought the Challenge would be the perfect excuse to browse through them, and pick out some of the most unexpected ones. Because while it is not exactly surprising to find things like "A101.1 - Supreme god as creator," one tends to run into completely out-of-the blue things as well, such as "F521.3.3.2. - Person with golden anus", or "A1319.3 - Why ear wax is inside the ear."

Our ancestors told tales about the weirdest things.

Each day of the challenge, I'll pick a motif from the Index, and bring you a folktale or myth that contains it. 
The motifs usually make a whole lot more sense in context. A descriptions that makes you go "whut now?" might be a completely common occurrence in folktales, that Thompson somehow managed to make sound strange when taken out of its element. My point, therefore, is twofold: One, to place some of the Motif Index into context, and two, to show off the stunning, amazing, endless richness of folk imagination that is rarely explored these days.

There will be...
... Poisonous eyebrows
... Assassin mice
... Thieving butterflies
... Women snacking on human nails
... lobsters mistaken for Norwegians
... Kings getting a Darwin Award for burning to death in an alcohol bath...

... and many other fascinating tidbits from around the world.

See you in April!

* * *

Don't forget to check out the other blogs participating in the Challenge! People will be posting the links to their Theme Reveal posts in the Comments section of today's post on the main blog.

My previous Challenge themes:
2012 - First year, no theme


  1. Hello,

    Your theme sounds super usual, look forward to reading more.

    Best wishes,
    Theme : Arabiana

  2. Fantastic! You always have the most incredible theme. Can't wait to read it :-)

    The Old Shelter - Theme Reveal - 1940s Film Noir

  3. You've certainly given yourself a lot of work! Sounds interesting.

    Keith's Ramblings - My theme for 2017!

  4. Love the title, and I love your theme so very, very much. I'm super excited about this. Though, could you please warn us in advance when the human nail eating is going to happen so I can avoid that one. ;)

    Theme Reveal: Magical and Medicinal Herbs

    1. Noted. Though, I'll still probably read it, because I won't be able to stop myself. ;)

  5. This is my first time here, thanks to the A to Z Challenge. I have been always interested in folklore stories, so I hope I will drop here more than one day.

    My theme is going to be postcards, as my blog is about all postal things.

  6. This sounds like a very interesting theme. As always. Melissa @ My Creatively Random Life

  7. This sounds like a whole lot of weirdness. Imagination of those in the past obviously ran rampant so sounds like you're going to have some fun posts ahead.

    It appears that we're off to a great A to Z start with the Theme Reveal. A good many bloggers seem to understand the concept so I think April will go quite well. Thanks for all the work you've put into preparing the way for this year's April Challenge.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out Theme Revieal: It's About Time

  8. Okay, I have to admit it. When I saw WTF, I was thinking something else entirely, but it kind of fits. Golden anus?! WTF! In any case, this is a wonderful theme.

    2017 A to Z Blog Challenge Theme Reveal

    1. I had many, many WTF moments when I was reading the index, so the acronym was intentional :D

  9. Wow! this is certainly new and intriguing one for me and I am hooked to it! Cant wait to read more. Cheers :-)

  10. Poisonous Eyebrows!!! Now this I gotta come back and check out! You always manage to find something compelling to talk about :)
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles

  11. WTF, huh? Love it. I doubt I'll be participating in the challenge myself, though.

  12. Can't wait to follow this one! As a consumer of history, I love folktales. The nuggets of truth are sometimes quite intriguing.

    I'm participating with Southern Graves - Telling the Tales of Tombstones.

  13. Another fabulous theme choice you've made - I can't wait to read your posts.

  14. That sounds like a really fun theme! I can just hear my mother harping about how things like that wouldn't happen in real life, but that's part of what makes storytelling so fun.

  15. Ooh, I love this theme! I will also have to read through your "Weird Princesses," as I am a big fan of the Rejected Princesses site. Looking forward to learning more about these poisonous eyebrows, too... are they poisoning the owner, or attached to an enemy? HMM!

  16. Interesting! Looking forward to the thieving butterflies. They are such innocent looking creatures!

  17. Once again you have come up with a fascinating theme! I can hardly wait!

  18. wow, when you say weird, you mean it! can't wait to see this!

  19. This sound just weird enough that I may have to check in to read your posts!

    Jingle Jangle Jungle

  20. Arghhh!!!
    What is this perfection???
    Best theme ever!!
    I can't wait to follow along with all of your posts :)
    Yay folklore!

  21. What a beguiling theme! I won't be able to resist following your posts ;-)

  22. Sounds really adventurous! Looking forward to it!

    Impromptu Promptlings

  23. I've enjoyed your past themes and this sounds like another interesting one. I will be following.

    Finding Eliza

  24. This definitely sounds like an interesting theme!

  25. This has the potential to be one of the best themes out there. I'm fascinated by nuggets like these. Maybe the tales about the people with a golden anus are what gave us the phrase "the sun shines out of his behind"??

    1. Interestingly enough, I wanted to use that one, so I followed up on it, and turns out it was a mistranslation on Thompson's part. It's actually a golden belly button...

  26. This sounds fascinating and I honestly can't wait to read your posts. Following you now so that I don't miss any of them in April.

  27. Folktales are wonderful. Perhaps the storytellers of yesteryear flourished before TELEVISIon. Interesting theme and very interesting reference book.

  28. This is one of the most unique themes out there. Looking forward to your entries. Cheers!
    Debbie @ The Doglady's Den

  29. This is my first year participating in the A – Z challenge, and I am very excited about. Even just at the theme reveal level I am happy to be finding some wonderful blogs that I might not have found otherwise. Anyway, I love your theme. I can’t wait to read your posts, I think they will be very entertaining and fun to read.
    My theme:

  30. Very interesting theme this year. Looking forward to it! Good luck and Hope to see you too at my "Female Scientists..."

  31. OMG that sounds awesome and hilarious. Looking forward to your stuff.
    The holidays of April is my #AtoZchallenge Theme.
    -Jamie @PenMinion

  32. I am a member of the American Society of Folklore off and on, and I eagerly look forward to your month of posts during the challenge, in which I'm also participating.

  33. I look forward to reading your stories!


  34. This not only sounds interesting but I will learn something too.

  35. Wow, this sounds so interesting! I hadn't heard of this index before, can't wait to learn more. Thanks for stopping by my site and checking out my theme this year, Dragons in Our Fandoms!
    Jamie Lyn Weigt | Writing Dragons Blog

  36. Okay, I'm super intrigued already and can't wait to read about the lobsters that think they're Norwegian and I don't even want to think about women snacking on fingernails!! Have a fun April.
    Pamela at fellowAtoZblogger

  37. Wow. Not sure if I would want to read about a golden anus, tho....sounds like King Midas getting freaky? LOL!

    1. OMG - I pasted your own blog into my comment! I meant to put mine!
      Lisa / Tales from the Love Shaque
      Doh de doh de doh.

  38. Ha this sounds awesome.

    Happy A to Z!


  39. Love folktales 1 would love to read your posts . good luck !

  40. Hello, fellow A-to-Zer! Okay, the Thompson Motif Index thing is fascinating. Do you know if it incorporates the work of Vladimir Propp (Morphology of the Folktale)? I mean, that text (and I have to admit, here and now, that I've only sort of skimmed it, and that I Do Not Know What I Am Talking About) is, I think, essentially an attempt to reduce themes in Russian folktales into the smallest possible chunks of meaning... so I wonder if Propp's work was one of Thompson's influences (I think Morphology was published in the 20s?) or sources or both or neither. Anyway, I LOVE your theme, and will visit again!
    Melanie Atherton Allen