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    Vampire on the loose in Serbia? The Associated Press 12/01/2012 1:11 PM

    ZAROZJE, Serbia —Get your garlic, crosses and stakes ready: a bloodsucking vampire is on the loose. Or so say villagers in the tiny western Serbian hamlet of Zarozje, nestled between lush green mountain slopes and spooky thick forests. They say that rumors that a legendary vampire ghost has awakened are spreading fear – and a potential tourist opportunity – through the remote village.

    A local council warned villagers to put garlic in their pockets and place wooden crosses in their rooms to ward off vampires, although it appeared designed more to attract visitors to the impoverished region bordering Bosnia.

    Many of the villagers are aware that Sava Savanovic, Serbia's most famous vampire, is a fairy tale. Still, they say, better to take it seriously than risk succumbing to the vampire's fangs.

    "The story of Sava Savanovic is a legend, but strange things did occur in these parts back in the old days," said 55-year-old housewife Milka Prokic, holding a string of garlic in one hand and a large wooden stake in another, as an appropriately moody mist rose above the surrounding hills. "We have inherited this legend from our ancestors, and we keep it alive for the younger generations."

    Vampire legends have played a prominent part in the Balkans for centuries – most prominently Dracula from Romania's Transylvania region. In the 18th century, the legends sometimes triggered mass hysteria and even public executions of those accused of being vampires.

    Sava Savanovic, described by the Zarozje villagers as Serbia's first vampire, reputedly drank the blood of those who came to the small shack in the dense oak tree forest to mill their grain on the clear mountain Rogatica river.

    The wooden mill collapsed a few months ago – allegedly angering the vampire, who is now looking for a new place to hang his cape.

    Some locals claim they can hear steps cracking dry forest leaves and strange sounds coming from the rocky mountain peaks where the vampire was purportedly killed with a sharp stake that pierced his heart – but managed to survive in spirit as a butterfly.

    "One should always remain calm, it's important not to frighten him, you shouldn't make fun of him," said villager Mico Matic, 56, whose house is not far from the collapsed mill.

    "He is just one of the neighbors, you do your best to be on friendly terms with him," he said with a wry smile, displaying garlic from both of his trouser pockets.

    Some locals say it's easy for strangers to laugh at them, but they truly believe.

    "Five people have recently died one after another in our small community, one hanging himself," said Miodrag Vujetic, a local municipal council member. "This is not by accident."

    Vujetic, however, said that "whatever is true about Sava," locals should use the legend to promote tourism.

    "If Romanians could profit on the Dracula legend with the tourists visiting Transylvania, why can't we do the same with Sava?"

    Richard Sugg, a lecturer in Renaissance Studies at the U.K.'s University of Durham and an expert on the vampire legends, said the fear could be very real. Stress can bring on nightmares, which makes people's feelings of dread even worse.

    "The tourists think it is fun – and the Serbian locals think it's terrifying," he said.



    Neither… From my understanding, the young locals in the area like to tease the elderly who are still strong in their superstitions. So when the mill collapsed, the youngsters took it as an opportunity…

    But such beliefs are still QUITE strong in very rural areas in the region.  Serbia is the home of the vampire…



    I know that the vampire is prominent in Balkan myth but didn't think people still were scared of them.  The only vampire I ever saw was at a used car lot.  He tried to sell me a Dodge convertible for more than sticker price.



    yee and thats his photo ?  ;D ;D



    Sava Savanović is Vampire character from story and latter from film ;D



    @Dalibor Glisic vas inspired for his story by a myth.
    even though some people say Petar Blagojevic is oldest Serbian known vampire


    @Dalibor Glisic vas inspired for his story by a myth.
    even though some people say Petar Blagojevic is oldest Serbian known vampire

    Yes, non theless it is myth. :)

    I also think that stories about Vampires originated in Serbia.



    well, that's what most mythologists think. becouse of different types of vampire beliefs among Serbs.



    Well I learned something new every day.  I always thought the ancient Greeks were the first to tell of vampires.  Now at 46, I learn it is a Serbian



    it's connected with Dazhbog cult among Serbs, but it's a Slavic myth if we look generaly. I'll post some articles tomorow :)



    Thanks nice to get more than just Vlad the impaler.



    Romanians don't have the term Vampires, they have Strigoi. Where the Vampire myth originated is a wild guess, since all Slavic countries share the myth.

    In Serbian mythology povampiriti se – to become a vampire or rise from the grave, meant actually to come back as a wolf after the death, which is related to the ancestor cult. It was namely believed that our ancestors became wolves after their death (an old-Serbian myth) and therefore the wolf was, and still is a very respected animal among the Serbs, one can even say a national personification as seen with the Russian bear or the French rooster. This tradition of ancestors becoming wolves after they passed away was kept also in Christianity and transfigured into the myth of werevolves thus also vampires. More about it here.

    The mentioning of the term Vampire in western Europe was first noted in the Austro-Hungarian documents in the 18th century, in relation to the Serbs guarding the southern borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with time this vampire-epidemic increased to numerous other eastern European countries, Rumania, Slovakia, Czeska etc. It was probably the first contact of the Germans with traits of Slavic tradition which differed from their german one. More about the etymology here.



    Very cool to know.  I was always more of a werewolf fan and if I did turn into an animal after death, the wolf would be a good one to be.



    Well, what I want to add, that the Polish upiór (phantom) also came from the Proto-Slavic *ǫpyrъ (or *ǫpirъ, I am not sure), the development ǫ > u indicates that this is a borrowing, maybe from an East Slavic language, in Polish the word would became wąpierz.

    The word itself is a cognate of nietoperz (bat, literally meaning night flyer), the root of both meaning flyer, the prefix ǫ- (according to Brückner) means not or less (cognate of Greek an-, a-).



    Netopyrь  is a word for bat in proto Slavic as I remember, maybe there is a connection =]

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