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9 Examples of Vampire Folklore and the Reasoning Behind Them

Cindy is an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.

Why can't vampires be caught in sunlight?

Why can't vampires be caught in sunlight?

1. Sunlight

Anyone who has watched horror movies with vampires at their center knows that exposure to sunlight will result in a fiery death for these night stalkers. While this means of eliminating blood feeders are almost universally accepted as foolproof, there are loopholes to consider.

When they are in human form, vampires are vulnerable to ultraviolet rays, especially those which emanate directly from the sun. There is, however, a way around this for those who wish to inhabit the world of the living anytime they please without forfeiting their immortality in the process.

Utilizing their talent for shapeshifting, vampires can transform themselves into beings that are impervious to the sun. While they have the ability to assume any identity of their choosing, their preferred personas are thought to be those of bats and wolves. While in these guises, vampires can scout prey without raising the suspicions of those around them.

Back in the day, when a nocturnal animal was found roaming the countryside in the light of day, residents would scramble for ways to explain the creature's uncharacteristic behavior. Although their presence raised some eyebrows, only those whose lives were steeped in folklore viewed it as a sign that a vampire was in their midst.

A silver crucifix is supposedly one of the best ways to kill a vampire.

A silver crucifix is supposedly one of the best ways to kill a vampire.

2. The Power of Silver

It is well-known that silver can kill a werewolf, but what effect does it have on vampires? While not lethal, it is believed that silver bullets have the power to inflict serious injuries, including paralysis, upon these normally impervious entities.

Apparently, the natural elements found in pure silver do not sit well in a vampire's system. When introduced in any form, the metal causes a burning sensation that can last for several hours, or days, depending on the level of exposure.

Another explanation is that vampires loathe the purity that silver represents. When in its presence, they are so repulsed by the unsullied nature of the substance that they must flee or risk exposing their true face.

In Greek mythology, Artemis, the goddess of the hunt and overseer of wildlife, was said to have come upon a vampire as he attempted to pilfer her silver collection. Furious, she harnessed her powers and laid a curse upon the interloper and all his kind. From that day forward, any vampire who came in contact with silver would suffer burns as retribution for the actions of the would-be thief.

The most effective tool that can be used to ward off a suspected vampire is a silver crucifix. Its representation of the holiest of figures, combined with its elemental composition, makes the object unbearable to vampires. When placed upon the skin of a creature of the night, the burn that is left behind will remain forever, thus branding the subject as one who feasts upon the blood of the living.

Vampires are often affiliated with nocturnal animals such as bats.

Vampires are often affiliated with nocturnal animals such as bats.

3. The Calling

Although it may not be apparent to those who live in noisy cities, country dwellers know well when the night is about to fall. It is not only the vision of the sun setting on the horizon that gives them a heads-up but the cries of the nocturnal creatures who have awoken to greet the darkness. These worshippers of the moon take great pleasure in announcing that, for the time being, they are the eyes of the world.

If you've ever wondered how vampires know when it's time to rise and shine, here's one possible answer. Awakened by the cries of the crickets, owls and frogs that inhabit the twilight, vampires emerge from their dens or coffins and venture into the shadows to feed. While Mother Nature is known to provide wake-up calls for those who walk during the day, it would seem that she does the same for the nefarious ilk that stalks the hours from dusk to dawn.

What is it about garlic that repels vampires?

What is it about garlic that repels vampires?

4. The Demon Garlic

Garlic is thought to be as much of a nuisance to vampires as the aforementioned silver. Although not nearly as potent, the smell and taste of the savory cloves are enough to keep even the most determined fiend at bay.

In the early 1800s, garlic was heavily consumed by people who made their livings working the fields. Through trial and error, they discovered that as pleasant as the taste was to most humans, creatures hungering for a blood meal avoided it like the plague. Apparently, pesky mosquitos and biting flies would rather starve than feed off of anyone with garlic polluting their insides.

Vampires, it would seem, were among those who would steer clear of garlic at all cost. Since they were bloodsuckers as well, to smell garlic on a potential victim was an unmistakable warning to keep away. To take one bite was to risk introducing the pungent vegetable into their system, something no vampire would ever willingly do.

5. A Question of Why

The question of how a person becomes a vampire in the first place is a tricky one. While it is widely presumed that this transformation occurs when someone who is afflicted feeds on a mortal victim but spares their life, there are other ways that are fabled to lead to this nearly inescapable state of non-being.

Supposedly, if a cat jumps onto a casket that is destined for the graveyard, the corpse it holds will awaken in the form of a vampire. Along the same lines, a cat crossing the path of a funeral procession will have similar results.

Those who choose to end their lives prematurely are said to be punished by being returned to the world they attempted to escape in vampire form. Rather than finding peace, they are forced to walk the earth for eternity. The misery they experienced in life will remain with them as they journey through the millenniums in a state of perpetual sadness.

6. The Hunger

Vampires subsist on blood, that much is a given. As it happens, the source of this precious commodity is as important to their survival as sleeping during the day and avoiding the objects meant to do them harm.

One hard and fast rule is that vampires cannot feed from others of their kind. Contrary to some Hollywood depictions, the undead require certain elements that can only be found in the blood of humans. While they can technically drink from another vampire, it is akin to sipping from an empty glass; they get nothing from it.

Likewise, although they can purportedly survive on the blood of non-human animals, the experience is less than satisfying. The substituted cells will sustain their existence, but leave them lacking.

Even though humans are their ideal prey, vampires must be choosy when it comes to procuring a meal. Someone who is ailing is not a good candidate for obvious reasons. While the malady from which they suffer cannot be passed directly to the feeder, the offering is often distasteful and lacking in the nutrients they crave.

In the end, vampires, like most other species, will consume whatever is available in order to survive. With that said, they tend to be a tad more finicky than other creatures of lore.

Vampires do not have reflections.

Vampires do not have reflections.

7. Reflections

It is a well-known assertion that vampires do not cast reflections in glass or mirrors. This is not surprising since they lack souls. Mirrors, it would seem, cannot display images of non-living beings that have shunned the lightness for the dark.

Another theory as to why vampires fail to appear in mirrors is rooted in times gone by. In the old days, looking glasses were often backed with unadulterated silver, an element that was previously mentioned as being abhorred by the undead.

Silver, especially that used in the construction of anything reflective, was believed to hold the power to absorb evil. This knowledge resulted in vampires avoiding mirrors whenever possible, lest their essence be pulled inside and held in limbo for eternity.


8. Wooden Stakes

One of the most universally accepted ways to destroy a vampire is to drive a stake through its heart while it sleeps. In this case, it is not the implement that is important, but the material from which it is constructed.

Vampires are said to possess a natural fear of wood. This notion, if accurate, can be traced back to biblical times. Since the undead detest any tools of Christianity, it is believed that they recoil at the sight of wood; the God-given material used to build the cross on which Christ was crucified.

To have a stake fashioned from wood, especially that of a dogwood tree, plunged into their heart, will end a vampire's existence in short order. The trauma, coupled with the representation of the messiah, is something no blood feeder can withstand. It is also for this reason that wooden crosses are often found in churches and homes. Not only are they lethal to vampires, but they also have the power to ward off evil in all its forms.

Vampires, being dead and all, are unlikely to be in the market for romantic entanglements.

Vampires, being dead and all, are unlikely to be in the market for romantic entanglements.

9. The Ultimate Seducers

Ever since the days of Bela Lugosi, vampires have been depicted as sensual beings whose prowess does not end with the hunt. The reality, if we're being honest, is probably nowhere near as titillating as we have been led to believe.

Vampires, being dead and all, are unlikely to be in the market for romantic entanglements. With their existence ruled by an insatiable desire to feed, they hardly have time for liaisons with the living. Although the idea plays well in books and on the big screen, it's doubtful that, if vampires do roam among us, they are looking for brief encounters.

Putting all that aside, the practicality of such endeavors comes into question. Since vampires no longer have need of normal human functions, this makes it unlikely that they bow to the whims of their non-existent hormones. Assuming that they were born human, the qualities they once boasted are long gone, including the ability to consume any form of nourishment other than blood products. Why then would they harbor romantic feelings or the ability to act upon those emotions should the need arise?

This is, of course, merely speculation born of equal parts curiosity and physiology. Perhaps these bloodthirsty entities are indeed the peerless lovers they are reputed to be in literature and on film. In the end, it is a mystery that only adds to the allure of the enigmatic vampire.



This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.