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History lesson

Myths and Misconceptions about Vampires

Vampires have long been a subject of fascination, with their lore deeply rooted in ancient myths and later popularized by Hollywood. One of the most common misconceptions is that a vampire is created by the bite of another vampire. Contrary to popular belief, this idea is purely a Hollywood invention. In traditional myths, the origins of a vampire could vary widely, from a corpse being jumped over by a cat or dog, to a wound that hadn't been treated with boiling water, or even a history of rebellion against established religions. Another Hollywood-influenced myth is the vampire's vulnerability to sunlight. While movies often portray vampires as burning or disintegrating under the sun's rays, traditional folklore only suggested that vampires were more active at night, but sunlight didn't harm them.

The portrayal of vampires in movies and literature has also given rise to the belief that they can only be killed by driving a stake through their heart. While this method is indeed mentioned in myths, the heart isn't always the primary target. Some traditions suggest targeting the mouth or stomach. Other methods from folklore include decapitation, pouring boiling water on the coffin, or placing a lemon in the vampire's mouth. Another popular belief is that vampires can transform into wolves or bats. While movies have often shown these transformations, folklore suggests that vampires could take on a variety of forms, including cats, hares, and even insects.

The image of the vampire as a seductive and alluring creature is another misconception, primarily stemming from Victorian literature. Bram Stoker's portrayal of Count Dracula as a romantic seducer is a stark contrast to the hideous and monstrous vampires of traditional myths. These vampires were often described as bloated, dead-looking, or emaciated, with skin tones ranging from ruddy and purplish to pale. Another intriguing myth is that a vampire cannot enter private property without permission. This idea aligns with some European traditions and has been widely adopted in movies. Interestingly, some myths also suggest that if you drop mustard seeds over your shoulder, a vampire would be compelled to stop and count them, a detail not often depicted in popular media.

Charlie, Heywise Staff

Quiz WriterCharlie, Heywise Staff

Charlie took to the written word like a fish takes to water. That is to say; they found themselves immersed in literature from before they were born. They've been known to tell their friends how they can still remember the passages their parents read to them when they were in utero - Emily Dickinson, Jane Austen, and a bit of Hunter S. Thompson thrown in to balance it out. Charlie keeps their feet wet, whether they're whipping up pithy one-liners to tease your brain or busy working on their second novel (the first one is available on Amazon under a pen name they refuse to disclose). You’re sure to get a kick out of giggle-worthy explanations and outrageous hints, and still come away feeling like you’ve just expanded your knowledge base.

Did you know?

Dracula was the first "modern" vampire?

It’s true! Without Irish author Abraham “Bram” Stoker, we might not have ever had the vampires that we know and love today. Dracula is one of the most famous vampires to ever exist and is the basis for pretty much every modern vampire, even if we don’t realize it. Before Stoker wrote Dracula, there were a few generally accepted traits of vampires. They could turn others into the undead, had large canine teeth, kept their nails long and sharp, and were vulnerable to both garlic and wooden stakes.

However, Bram Stoker fused traits from similar creatures with these to create the iconic Dracula character. For example, he brought in the traits we now see as “typical,” including super strength, a lack of reflection, no eating or drinking, and the ability to see in the dark. Stoker also tossed in the ability to turn into bats, dogs, or even mist from werewolf myths. These powers, mixed with a heavy dose of Gothic literature and themes from Victorian theater, led to the Dracula—and every other vampire—we love today.

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