Vampire myths from cultures throughout the world go back thousands of years. However, many of the vampires of our time are based on legends from Eastern Europe.
So just who are vampires exactly? These creatures are not dead, but must stay hidden from the daylight. When the sun goes down, they rise from their coffins looking for the blood of a human to keep them going. These modern vampire characteristics are similar to those of the legends of Eastern Europe with associated capes and fine evening clothes.
While vampires are talked about everywhere, it is the Slavic people who have the largest number of myths about these creatures. Their mythology is thought to have developed during the ninth century when Christians became a more powerful force than the pagans who proceeded them. Vampires were believed to have been born with these tendencies. To protect themselves from vampires, Slavs believed in using a cross to keep the vampires in their coffins or graves. To stop a vampire, some believed the only way was to drive a stake through their heart.
Eastern Europeans also believe that vampires are afraid of garlic. In order to protect their farm animals, farmers rubbed them with garlic. To protect the home from vampire intrusion, garlic gloves were often hung around the doors and windows.
And there are the bats. Itís obvious that they are integral to the modern day concept of the vampire, but this was not always the case. During the 16th century, the Spanish conquistadors first came into contact with them and recognized the similarity between the feeding habits of the bats and those of their mythical vampires.
Thinking of heading out to the store for some garlic now? Fear not. Vampires are thought to be just creatures of folklore.
However, maybe we should be alert in this season of haunting.