What is a legend?

We explain what a legend is and what its characteristics are. Relationship with culture, types of legends and some examples.

  1. What is a legend?

Legends are stories that tell human and supernatural facts alike , transmitted through generations. This transmission has been given orally and in writing within a clan, town or within the confines of a specific region.

Legends, despite containing supernatural, miraculous facts and fictional creatures, are considered by some people as credible . This credibility is achieved by giving the legend a place known to the population and a remote position in time .

The important thing about this is that in that way they created credible scenarios and possible situations that placed the story in a world that was familiar to the people who were going to transmit the story to the next generations.


The legends relate events happened in an imprecise time and place, where the actions have a traditional character and mixed events related to the homeland, popular heroes, imaginary creatures, and souls are mixed . With this varied theme, it is not surprising that the stories have mutated as they were transmitted orally. Each listener who then repeats the stories does so in their own way with their own narrative resources, adding or removing sections and deepening descriptions.

Usually the legends are strongly related to the traditional popular culture of the people. In these stories, the deepest feelings of the community could be traced , such as their desires and fears.

The legends are rich resources for the analysis of the peoples, since in these the experts can see how the people perceive the environment, their religiosity and their identity.

  1. Characteristics of a legend

  • Time and place . This is usually much more accurate than in a story , since it occurs at a specific time, although past, and is usually linked to a particular region.
  • Fiction . Fantastic beings are also presented, such as fairies, angels and beasts, although they also contain beings that can be called “protagonists.”
  • Objective . Its main goal is to make sense of a society or culture , detailing its origins and some rituals.
  1. Classification of the legends

Legend - David and Goliath
Religious legends narrate the lives of saints and great righteous characters.

The legends can be typified according to their theme:

  • Religious legends . They relate the life of saints, great righteous characters and even satanic events.
  • Scatological legends . Stories that refer to life after death .
  • Ethological legends . They explain how the different elements that make up nature were created . Very frequent in indigenous legends.

The legends can be typified according to their origin:

  • Local legends . It is a native story, typical of a region or province.
  • Rural legends . They develop in only in the fields.
  • Urban legends . Stories that are known today and are valid.

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