Today the common view of the vampire is akin to a soap opera. Modern vampires are sexy, typically very wealthy, and have some serious drama. I mean honestly, if I lived for centuries, I’d be putting back a few dollars myself. I’d also have all the time in the world to perfect my smokey eye look. It is also reasonable that someone would be pretty mad at me with centuries to hold a grudge. But historically, society has not always been in love with the vampire. Actually, they have been quite frightened.
Appearances Are Everything
In stark contrast to the modern gorgeous creature of the night, vampires in early European folklore were gruesome. As vampires were undead creatures it is not surprising that early descriptions reports them to be boated, ruddy or purplish in color, and blood spilled from their mouths and noses. In many areas of Eastern Europe so called “vampire graves” are still unearthed containing the remains of the dead spiked to the ground and with a brick lodged in their mouth. In some instances the body is decapitated to prevent it from rising from the grave.
Creating a vampire
Now that we know how vampires looked, the question remains of how they were created. Modern vampire lore suggests that a lonely vampire seeks out a companion and after drinking their blood, and sometimes feeding the victim their own blood, a new vampire is created. Oh how sweet. But no, not in traditional folklore. Vampires were considered the remnants of some evil being, a witch, or even a poor soul who committed suicide. Sometimes a wicked entity would jump into a dead body to drive it around for awhile and suck blood. If a wretched vampire did bite someone, think of it more along the lines of a zombie, you were merely food but now you will be the predator as you morph into a vampire. Even more frightening than encountering a vampire was being accused of vampirism. It carried a penalty of death!
Making of Modern Vampires
Thank you Mr. Stoker. In the nineteenth century many people became enthralled with horror stories. Despite all the scientific advances happening, society was fascinated with the supernatural. Dracula, published in 1897, gave us the template for the modern vampire. He took Transylvanian folklore and spun it in a way that would influence the vampire legend for over a hundred years. Dracula cemented vampire weaknesses such as garlic, sunlight, and crosses. Yet, one of the most lasting myths is the inability of the vampire to view his reflection in a mirror. Fun fact: in the 1800’s silver was used to back mirrors, thus creating a reflection. As silver is one of the purest metals, and repels vampires, at the time, it would have been logical that mirrors would not reflect a vampire. But beware, modern mirrors are backed with aluminum, vampires can now be seen in mirrors!
Are Vampires Real?
Do vampires really exist? In today’s modern world it is hard to believe that anything fantastical could possibly be real. But vampires have existed in cultures around the world throughout history. The term vampire is relatively new, yet stories of creatures with similar characteristics go back to at least 1500 BCE. The legend had to begin somewhere. So yes, I think that in some form vampires do exist today.
If you would like to read more about ancient vampires check out this cool article! Vampires of the Ancient World