The facts of Myths and legends
Many of these stories hold lessons on morals, such as working hard, listening to your elders, and never slacking off, much like the story of Mother Hulda. For staying true to her duties while staying at an old woman's house after falling down a well, the heroine pictured on the right receives an apronful shower of gold coins on her way out. Her stepsister, however, does not do the jobs she was told to do and earns a bucketful of pitch splashed onto her that will stay on her for life. Other stories talk about being considerate of others. In Queen Bee, a boy that saves various creatures from a certain doom gains a princess and a kingdom, unlike his two brothers, who now live with wives they can barely tolerate for leaving the animals to suffer.
Myths are believed to be actual accounts on what happened, exaggerations of real happenings, or created to explain how the cosmos work. King Aeolus, for example, is an actual person, although he ruled over the kingdom of Aeolia (aka Thessaly in modern verse), not winds. Another good example would be the story where the vulture has no neck feathers because of a perilous flight to the sky with the fallen sun in his beak.
Several well-known creatures have been found used in many cultures, although appearances will change. Take the vampire for example. Although many of us are familiar with the modern-day pale-skinned cute youthful immortal, the Chinese fear about the arrival of the Jiang Shi, vampires that suck your life essence while hopping around. Malaysia is rich with different species if you asked them about the same family. African tales talk about people with vampiric abilities and the Americas leave no exception. Lamia was an Ancient Greek striges that was said to be an ex-mistress of Zeus before Hera found out. She swore vengence after her offspring were killed and feasted on the blood of children and young men. So you see, vampires weren't always thought to be like Edward Cullen! I'm pretty sure he can't detach his soon-to-fly head like the Japanese believed of the Nukekubi!
Not all of these stories are written down. Many of the Slavic and African mythology are found to be oral stories, tales that are passed down by storytelling because of their lack of a writing system. The Australian Aboriginals and North American Indians performed their stories, which were mainly about the spirits of nature and animals, a huge break from mythological creatures. Some of the stories were not published until as late as the1950s or a slightly earlier time with publishers like Hans Christian Anderson and Andrew Lang to record them.
Not all literature, however, are unique. The Norse changed their stories to sound like their neighboring countries so much that it's hard to distinguish the difference between the them, so technically Norse mythology is a collection of the stories of Germanic countries (Sweden, Germany, Iceland, Denmark, Faroe Islands), not the stories of Norway. Romanian legends were largely based off Christianity. The Romans copied from the Greeks, only changing the names and altering the personalities of the gods to make it sound different, although some them they had come up on their own, to give them half-credit.
If there is one thing in common with all of them, it is that there is some sort of ritual, symbol, or weapon involved, benevolent or malevolent. The above sign is the Celtic Cross, a symbol often placed on the gravestones of Ireland.
Some names of mythical origin are sometimes used again in science because of similarities. Lycanthropy (aka clinical lycanthropy) is a type of mental illness where the patient believes he or she has transformed into or is an animal and acts like it. Lycanthropy itself is transformation between man and creature.
Whether or not the many things described in mythology is obvious: not. However, that did not stop some people in believing in them or make cheap off other's beliefs. Mercy Brown had died from tuberculosis long after her mother, Mary, and her older sister, Mary Olive, had passed away from it around the 1890s, when not much was understood of the disease. Her father, George Brown, was persuaded by the neighbors that one of them was a vampire that caused his son, Edwin, to contract the said disease. He dug up the not-decayed body, took out the heart, burned it, and mixed the remains with water to give to Edwin. He died two months later. Two sisters from 1900s made paper doll-like pictures of pixies, pinned them on areas around them, and took pictures that were to be sold later. The scandal was more outrageous when they took another picture, this time one of them appearing to be talking to a gnome (or was it a brownie?). They did not reveal to the public later that the pictures were not real until much later…