6 Popular Vampire Traits Demystified (#folklore)

Since I’m currently writing paranormal, I thought it’d be fun to mix up my posting routine by including some mythology and folklore again. Some of the posts will be new, and some will come from my archive of things I had once published on my no longer existent folklore blog.


Today I’m having a bit of fun with vampire (mis)associations; those pesky ideas that we commonly think of in terms of the vampire mythos.

Vampire legends have been around for hundreds of years, terrifying even the ancient Greeks and inspiring writers like Marquis de Sade and Bram Stoker, but over the years, their powerful existence has been drained to entertain the masses.

6 Popular Vampire Traits Demystified

1. Vampires are smoldering (sometimes sparkling), young, gorgeous, lean, and sexy creatures.

Even I’ll admit that I love a sexy vampire, but I wouldn’t mind seeing some classic vampires reclaim their throne as creatures to be feared and reviled. Traditionally, vampires resembled cadavers (not so far-fetched since they’re dead right?) – they were rank with the odor of death, cold, skeletal and withered. Sometimes, the appearance of a vampire improves after feeding.

Remember, vampire-lovers, eating blood would also give him some rank breath (not to mention he’s dead, did I say that?).

The Bulgarian vampire has only one nostril while the Polish vampire has a tongue with a sharp stinger on the end.

2. Vampires are associated with bats.

Vampires have been long associated with many animals–cats, dogs, snakes, death head moths, even sheep and horses, but bats seldom appear in early European vampire tales. The presence of bats in the lore spread after Spanish conquistadors brought back stories of blood-drinking “vampire bats” in the New World.

Dracula does transform into a bat, but only after arriving in England–his favorite form is the wolf.

3. Vampires have no reflection and cannot be caught on film.

Folklore regarding the dead and mirrors is common–in some cultures it is common practice to cover or turn mirrors around in a house after someone dies. If a spirit sees himself in a mirror it was believed he would become a restless ghost. Many cultures believed that a mirror reflected–or in some cases, captured–the soul of a person. The same has been said of cameras. If vampires are believed to be soulless creatures, it is then likely to assume that neither a mirror or a picture could capture their image.

In Dracula, the count also casts no shadow–the shadow has also been associated with a person’s soul.

4. Vampires cannot walk in sunlight.

In European lore, vampires are nocturnal, but many reports include vampires walking in the daylight. Serbian vampires gain their power from the devil and thus have more power at night, but there is no precedence in folklore that would indicate that the sun’s rays would harm a vampire.

The first vampire to be killed–disintegrated, actually–by sunlight is Graf Orlock in Nosferatu (1922). After this it became a favored means of destruction, often replacing Dracula’s original death (by knife) in remakes.

5. Vampires need to drink blood to live.

Okay, so that’s a tricky one. Blood has always carried mystical and even magical powers in folklore. It symbolizes the soul, strength, rejuvenation, and life–the very things that vampires need from their victims. So, technically, it’s not the blood they need, but the life-force within the blood. And these things aren’t always acquired them by merely drinking blood , some vampirize the soul directly, some steal life force through breath or sex, and some devour the body entirely.

In some myths, vampires like the German Alp, Drud, and Southern Slav Mora, drink milk from victims rather than blood.

Think about their eating habits as a full buffet, not just limited to a Capri Sun.

6. Vampires have super speed and strength.

I really have no idea where these ideas originated, as I haven’t found reference to them in any folklore I’ve read. Vampires did have the ability to shape-shift, becoming a mist to travel through small holes. So, they did have some mystic forms of transportation, but never lightening speed.

So, what do you think? What are you favorite or hated vampire characteristics? Which ones do you question?

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11 thoughts on “6 Popular Vampire Traits Demystified (#folklore)

  1. Vampires were the first love of my life both in fiction and fact. I’ve done a lot of research myself and I used a lot of the subject matter you’ve discussed here in my short story. I’ve also written a fictional account of the psychic vampire based from Michelle Belanger’s work. Not all vampire are sanguine. 🙂

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    1. Mine too! I blame my grandma since she was a fan of Dark Shadows and always talked about it when I was growing up. I love how when you really dive into the history of paranormal creatures, there is really no limit to the paths you could take in fiction.

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      1. There are so many types of vampire out there and every country has their own story. Even Anne Rice covered that when Louis was looking for other vampires. They traveled the world and found very little that resembled what they were.

        I watched Dark Shadows with my mom when I was little. And then Forever Knight. 🙂

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  2. The one vampire trait I’ve found that has been universally “accepted” is that vampires must drink blood–I think that is the defining trait that makes one a vampire. (However, I have read PC vampire stories where vampires drank synthetic blood).

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  3. I love vamps and I was a great fan of Dark Shadows too! One story I remember and liked was The Vampyre. A short story in which he was romanticized and portrayed as having inhuman strength.

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  4. Whilst I’ll be the first to admit I loved the twilight series, sparkly vampires made me grimace. Holy water, wooden stakes, silver, garlic… Why do we love them so? I think it’s because we portray them as being an all-powerful being – and women often have a thing for alpha’s. Loved the myth debunking – more, more! 🙂

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