Eastern Europe Vampire
Myths and Folklore

Not only did Eastern Europe receive silk from the trade caravans of China, Tibet, and India, but it also received the myths of the vampire.  As the caravan made its way to the Mediterranean, they heard tales of vampires as being red-eyed monsters with green or pink hair, an upper body of a woman and the lower of a winged serpent, or a vampire fox .  These myths spread out along the Black Sea coast to Greece, the Balkans, and the Carpathian mountains that included Hungary and Transylvania.  Even though the people have believed many things about vampires, one thing has remained constant and that is the drinking of blood, returning from death, preying on humans at night, etc.


Who are vampires?   Anyone who was different was considered a vampire – illegitimate offspring of illegitimate children, suicides, murderers, an unburied body which had sun or moonlight fall upon it, a nun stepping over an unburied body, seventh son of a seventh son, a pregnant woman who had been looked at (especially after her sixth month) by a vampire had a great risk of her child becoming a vampire, etc.

How do you find a vampire?  There are a few signs such as: holes in the ground above the grave, nails and hair grown out, coffin containing blood, etc. 

How can you tell if a grave contains a vampire?  Have a virgin boy ride naked and bareback on a virgin stallion through the graveyard until the horse steps on a grave and goes no further.  That marks a vampire’s grave.


In the 1730s in Serbia, vampires were a real concern and a hot topic of conversation.  During this time, a string of murders and farm animal deaths were attributed to vampires.  Thinking that many of the dead were vampires, a number of corpses were exhumed and found to be in remarkable condition with their veins still holding liquid blood or rosy-cheeks with blood trickling from their mouths.  One theory of science is that this is a rare form of a genetic disease called “porphyria,” a disorder affecting synthesis of hemoglobin.  Another theory is that the coldness and dampness of the ground caused the corpses to stay preserved.


Even today people of Eastern Europe believe that vampires exist.  During January 2004, Toma Petre of Romania passed away.  After his passing, several family members had difficulty with illnesses and the only conclusion was that Toma was draining their strength.  The family felt the only thing they could do was dig him up and remove his heart.  After that, they burnt it, mixed it with water, and the family drank the mixture. 

The villagers of Marotinu deSus believe this was the right thing to do, but the family has run into trouble with the local police.  This incident is being investigated and the police expect to file charges later.  It is unlawful for the family to disturb the peace of the dead and to re-kill the corpse.  Penalty could be a three-year jail term


Ion Balasca, who believes he has been in the presence of vampires, looks down on the grave of Toma Petre, the most recent "vampire" in the village of Marotinu deSus.

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Pages created by David Kulik, Robyn Reed, Lora Bailey, and Stephanie Brooks for Vampires on Film ENG 331. December 27, 2004.