13 Facts About Vampires

Almost every culture in the world has its own vampire legend, and some date back thousands of years. Today, Americans are most familiar with Count Dracula and other folklore from Eastern Europe. In honor of the Halloween season, here is a wealth of juicy trivia to sink one's fangs into.

  1. Was the first vampire a woman? The oldest known vampire legends come from Babylonian and Sumerian mythology. Female demons called the Lilu were said to hunt women and children at night, and drink their blood.
  2. Vlad III Tepes, also known as Vlad Dracul, was known for his incredible cruelty; he was alleged to have killed up to 30,000 people at one time! His bloodthirsty infamy was one source of inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula.
  3. The National Retail Federation listed vampire as the second most popular adult Halloween costume in 2005. Vampires were the sixteenth most popular children's costume for the same year.
  4. While modern pop culture usually portrays vampires as sensual and romantic, other countries don't see them that way: the Ghanan Asasabonsam vampire has iron spikes for teeth and hooks for feet, which they dangle from treetops onto unsuspecting victims.
  5. Some believe that Cain was the first vampire, cursed by God for slaying his brother, Abel. This theory is frequently found in popular films and role-playing games.
  6. In 1992, Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula movie won seven awards, including three Oscars.
  7. Stakes, fire, and sunlight aren't the only ways to kill a vampire. Other cultures recommend beheading the creature, boiling it in vinegar, pounding a nail through its navel, or scattering birdseed on its tomb.
  8. In Latin American folklore, El Chupacabras is a vampiric creature that drinks the blood of animals - usually chickens and goats.
  9. According to popular tradition, vampires can shape-shift into wolves, bats, or clouds of mist. While engorged with blood, the Aswang of the Philippines can even masquerade as a pregnant woman.
  10. In March 2007, self-proclaimed vampire hunters entered the tomb of Slobodan Milosevic and staked his body through the heart.
  11. The medical condition porphyria has been blamed for many reports of vampirism. Its victims develop pale skin, sensitivity to sunlight, receding gums which make their teeth appear larger, and severe anemia - the cure for which, in ages past, might have included drinking animals' blood.
  12. In the 17th Century, Countess Bathory of Hungary was said to bathe in human blood in order to preserve her beauty. Some even accused her of drinking the blood of servant girls.
  13. Vampire bats were named after vampires, not vice-versa.

author: Janna Weiss

- BBC Guide, "Vampires". BBC h2g2.
- NRF, "Princess Reigns as Most Popular Costume for Kids, According to NRF". National Retail Federation.
- IMDB, "Dracula". Internet Movie Database.
- Wikipedia Entry, "Vampire". Wikipedia.Org.

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