During the 19th century, the notion of vampires in Greece was becoming increasingly common , especially when certain cultural customs were taken into consideration. In this article, you will learn what added fuel to the fire when it came to suspecting people as vampires, as well as other Greek beliefs regarding vampirism.
A ritual in the country involves exhuming the deceased after three years of death to observe the rate of decay on the body. If the body was fully decayed, the relatives would place the remaining bones in a box and pour wine over them. A priest would then read from scriptures. However, if the body did not show a sufficient amount of decay, the dead were deemed a vampire.
Greek beliefs centered on the thought that vampirism could take place from excommunication or desecration of a religious day. If someone died alone or committed a heinous crime, they were also suspected of being a vampire. The Greeks held onto their superstitions and also linked cats jumping across a grave, curses, or eating meat from a sheep that a wolf had killed. In some isolated regions in Greece, it was thought that unbaptized people were doomed to vampirism in the afterlife.
Throughout Greece, the appearance of vampires was usually thought the same as the living , they were hard to detect in crowds. Because of this, a lot of folk tales emerged. Not everyone believed that vampires shared many of the same characteristics as humans. Mount Pelion vampires were said to glow in the dark. Vampires on Saronic Islands possessed hunchbacks and long nails. If a vampire lived on the island of Lesbos, they were believed to have canine teeth that resembled a wolf.
Not all vampires were deemed evil and sinister , some were considered harmless and believed to return to their loved ones to lend support by their work. However, many folk tales describe the vampires as being predators with a thirst for blood and flesh. Some believed that when they killed their victims, some would become condemned to lead the life of a vampire themselves.
The fear of becoming a vampire or being bitten (or eaten) by one was so strong, that panic would sweep across a village or region. In these times, the people embraced ways to protect themselves from the creatures. Blessed bread was used from the church. Crosses became more important than ever, and knives with black handles were carried. To prevent vampires from rising from the dead, iron nails were placed in their hearts as they rested in their graves. Some bodies were burned and the ashes scattered.