Portray a vampire: A troubled soul that longs for your blood.
*This is going to be more of me throwing information at you than anything else. Enjoy. I do not claim to be an expert on this subject.
These are said to be troubled souls of people long past rising from their tombs. Some of their properties include but aren’t limited to; invisibility, can drain the vitality of victims via blood loss, and can transform into animals. They are known as immortal beings and only some of them possess magical abilities if at all.
Their origin dates back to the Dacians therefore they are creatures of Dacian Mythology and represent evil spirits, the spirits of the dead who’s actions made them unworthy of entering Zalmoxis’s kingdom. The first vampire to have been written about was Jure Grando during the Celtic times whom was called a strigoi by people in his town. He continuously terrorized the villagers until they decided he was to be beheaded in 1672.
The belief was that the first sign of being a vampire was if a child was born under abnormal circumstances. The circumstances could range from a child being born out of wedlock to death occurring before it’s baptism. People who were aware of their irregular birth then they will leave specific instructions for what is to happen upon their death because they do not wish to become immortals. Another belief was that if a woman was pregnant and she didn’t consume any salt or was looked at by a vampire then her child was doomed to an eternal damnation of becoming an undead. The only way for this to not occur was to seek a blessing from a church.
These were not the only ways for someone to become a vampire, however. If someone practiced witchcraft, committed suicide, had sworn a false oath, or their corpse was leaped over by a cat then they were also damned to become vampires. Vampires were always suspected to be lurking around if a sudden death occurred in a household or livestock after the passing of a family member of someone who could have been a vampire. If vampires weren’t stopped, they would eventually move on to other towns and eventually other countries.
Believed to be most active on the eve of these two holidays; the Feast of St. George and the Feast of St. Andrew because Romanians used the old Julian calendar. In Stroker’s acclaimed novel, the modern Gregorian calendar was used. St. George was said to have been the patron of horses, cattle, wolves, and all enemies of witches and vampires. People often remained in their houses on these holidays with as many lights on as possible throughout the entire night. They did things such as placing thorns across thresholds, painting crosses with tars on their doors, putting thistles on windows, lighting bonfires, and spreading garlic everywhere they possibly could.
In Bram Stroker’s novel ‘Dracula’, the fear of the villagers on St. George’s day is used to warn Jonathan Harker that at midnight, “all the evil things in the world will have full sway."
Graves were often watched for signs that something might be lurking in them, something not alive but not dead either. Something as small as a tiny hole located near the tombstone would be sign enough for people. Vampires could be able to leave and enter their caves through this hole. If someone was spotted with a hole near their grave, they would be exhumed. If the corpse turned red in the face, it was a vampire. Other signs included being found laying face down inside the grave or one foot being pulled in at one corner of the coffin.
If while someone was still alive, they were believed to be prone to turning into a vampire after death, precautions were taken. Garlic would be placed in the mouth or millet seeds to postpone the vampire. Once the vampire prone person was buried, a distaff would be driven into the ground atop the grave with the belief that the vampire would impale itself. On the dead person’s anniversary the family would walk around his or her grave.
Melton, Gordon J. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead. Canton,MI. Visible Ink Press, 1999.
Bunson, Matthew. The Vampire Encyclopedia . Gramercy, 2000.