Dictionaries and guides provide overview articles and sources for background information.
Funk & Wagnall's Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, & Legend
GR 35 .F82 1984 West Ref (and stack)
A comprehensive dictionary of folklore from around the world. Includes survey articles and an index to countries, regions, ethnic groups, etc.
American Folklore: An Encyclopedia
GR 101 .A54 1996 West Stacks
A very thorough encylopedia of American folklore from the beginnings to the modern world (e.g. an entry on computer folklore). Also online (see box at left).
The American Book of Days, 3rd ed.
GT 4308 .D6 1987 West Stacks.
A day-by-day accounting of American national, state, religious, etc. holidays. Each entry is a small essay detailing the origins and customs associated with the observance of the holiday.
The Folklore of American Holidays, 1st ed.
GT 4803 .F65 1987 West Stacks.
Subtitle: "A Compilation of More Than 400 Beliefs, Legends, Superstitions, Proverbs, Riddles, Poems, Songs, Dances, Games, Plays, Pageants, Fairs, and Processions. Associated with over 100 American Calendar Customs and Festivals." Also includes numerous indexes for access to ethnic groups, motif-types, etc.
The Folklore of World Holidays, 1st ed.
GT 3930 .F65 1992 West Ref.
Entries for 340 national holidays and festivals from over 150 countries.
An academically safer alternative to Wikipedia.