Romanian mythology is packed with ancient heroes, enviable feats and fantastic tales. Some of the most heroic figures have the ability to slain monstrous forces of evil that no ordinary man would dare think of. Romanians are no strangers to sinister creativity and their myths are filled with dreadful antagonists. Here are just some of the all-time scariest creatures you can find in Romanian mythology.
Moroi and strigoi (vampires)
Dracula isn’t the only vampire figure associated with Romanian mythology. The two most common vampires found in old fairytales are the moroi and strigoi – nasty undead spirits feeding off human blood and energy. Sometimes depicted with the ability to transform into animals, the moroi and strigoi are also present in many books, games, songs and legends by foreign authors inspired by the Romanian tales.
Out of all types of Romanian zmeu-like (dragon) mythological creatures, the most intimidating is the balaur. With monstrous fish-like fins, three heads and a gigantic body, the balaur is the subject of numerous tales, which involve kidnapped princesses and beautiful young maidens. In some cases the balaur may have seven or even twelve heads, thus resembling the famous Greek hydras. In Wallachian mythology the balaur’s saliva forms gemstones, whereas the creature itself can rule the weather and has the ability to create hailstorms.
Tons of legends surround the vârcolac and its gruesome nature. The most popular portrayal is the one of a werewolf – a shapeshifting lycanthrope. Back in the days the villagers feared the idea of a vârcolac on local grounds so much that they labeled the creature as a wolf demon. In some tales the werewolf has the supernatural ability to swallow the sun and the moon, thus causing what we know nowadays as an eclipse.
Samca (demonic spirit)
Malicious and grotesque, Samca is a female demonic spirit that ruins underage children and pregnant women’s health. She allegedly has long, disheveled hair, crooked fingers that end with sharp nails, fire-spitting mouth and hands made of iron. Legend has it, she’ll turn up at the end of each month in front of a young child or a pregnant woman and either kill the poor soul or leave him/ her crippled for life. According to the myth, the spirit has not one, but nine different names.
Jidovi and uriaș (giants)
Repulsive, savage and present in many stories, the uriaș are often depicted with menacing size equal to the one of mountains. These creatures are sometimes described as one-eyed cyclops-like monsters, who feed on human flesh. In some Romanian folk tales the uriaș giants are also called jidovi.
Cannibalistic and fearsome, the căpcăun is a type of ogre, which usually kidnaps princesses and young ladies in Romanian folklore tales. Some legends represent him as a 4 eyed creature which has a set of eyes on the back of its nape, whereas others portray him as a four legged man-like monster with a dog head and an affinity towards eating human flesh.
Baubau (the Bogeyman)
Almost every culture on the planet has an equivalent of the infamous Bogeyman, including Slavic countries. In Romania, for example, this scary creature is called Baubau or simply Black Man. Although this figure is not present in any fairytales, songs or proses, he’s one of the main mythological creatures with which parents scare their children into behaving properly. According to the popular threats used by many parents, if the child does something bad, the Bogeyman will take him or her away. The creature’s appearances vary, but he’s mostly described as an evil elder man who kidnaps kids and takes them to frightening places as a punishment.