30 November 2009

How many vampires does it take?

Warning: this article includes vampire jokes that have been adapted from Polish jokes. Don't be offended; at least no one sparkles.

How do you get a one-armed vampire out of a tree?
--Wave to him.

"The Polish vampire is a variety of the Slavic vampire," but due to the power of Roman Catholicism in Poland, "many of the beliefs about death and burial that pervaded the mythology of the southern Slavs were absent from Polish folklore".

In Poland, the "future vampire was destined to its fate from birth. Infants born with a membrane cap (caul) on their heads would become a vjesci and those born with two teeth would become a upier/upierzyca". The "vampiric career of the future vjesci could be diverted by removing the cap, drying it, grinding it into a powder (or burning it), and feeding it (or its ashes) to the child when he or she was seven years old". If that process did not scar the child emotionally, the barrage of jokes that followed might.

"Those destined to become vampires led otherwise normal lives," all things considered, "but they were noted to have a hyperactive personality and a red face." The saying "as red as a vampire" was used to describe those whose faces flushed with anger or embarrassment during life.

The vampire accepted his destiny at "the critical period, the time of...death" when "the future vampire would refuse final rites." The body of an individual "suspected of becoming a vampire had to be watched carefully, for it was believed that the person did not truly die." It was believed that "the body cooled very slowly, retained its color, and did not stiffen. Spots of blood often appeared around the face and/or fingernails."

After midnight, the vampire "awakened and began to eat its own clothes and flesh." Then, the vampire would visit relatives and consume their blood. Finally, it would enter "the local church and ring the church bell. Those who heard the bell were destined to be the vampire's next victims."

In Poland, a vampire could be prevented from rising by the presence of a crucifix or coin in the mouth, and a block under the chin. These foreign objects prevented the vampire from eating himself. Furthermore, sand or seeds could be added to the coffin. The belief that a vampire must count all the seeds or sand grains before continuing is echoed in this practice. Nary a vampire could succeed alone in this task, for only a genius knows the number that follows ten.

Should the vampire be exceptionally gifted, the community would dispose of him immediately. The tomb was opened and the body was laid to a final rest. Since the heart could be difficult to find, the slayer drove a nail through the forehead of the vampire. Alternatively, the corpse was decapitated, "after which the severed head was placed between the corpse's feet. At the time the head was severed, blood from the wound would be given to any who had fallen ill as a result of the vampire's attack. The blood caused their recovery", unless the individual had died of some infectious disease, in which case...well...oops.

Na razie & przepraszam,

Melton, J Gordon. The Vampire Book: The encyclopedia of the undead.

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