In a forgotten southeastern European country, on 238,391 sq km lays a cradle of legends, beliefs and myths… Romania… Does it say something to you? Or maybe the Romanian region, Transylvania. The heritage of Romanian folk traditions have its roots in Thracian civilization, but it has also been influenced by many interethnic contexts.
Romanian traditions are observed from time immemorial, attesting to an uninterrupted and worthy civilization.
Many of the Romanian traditions and beliefs are linked to the environment and occupations, which represented a protection for the inhabitants from generation to generation.
Although Romanian people are from three regions (Transylvania, Moldavia and Wallachia) were separated by state borders at that time but they were aware that they formed only one nation, and ideology. In Romania the village was for a long time the main form of human community and the realm of a complex folk culture which is still preserved today. Social interaction is not the main aspect of religious belief; it is the most important and relevant spiritual activity, a vivid realm of inspiration and development of all creation forces.
The Romanian mythology is full of “devil’s slaves” like: lame animals, witches, dark creatures (known as “strigoi”, “pricolici” – like vampires) and fairy tales which present a good side that in the end defeat the evil one. In Romanian folk beliefs the correspondent of the vampire is the “strigoi”, dead people that leave their graves at night and haunt the living people that sleep, sucking their blood and taking the milk from their cows. Their spirits haunt from midnight until the first cock's crow. It is believed that there are two types of “strigoi”: living and dead.
The living “strigoi” is at daylight a normal person, but at night his soul forsakes his body, which remains in bed. This kind of “strigoi” kills children, drinks their blood and takes the fruit of the lands. When a person who was considered a “strigoi” dies, his heart is taken out of his chest and burnt in order not to haunt after his death.
The dead “strigoi” are the ones whose funeral was improperly performed according to tradition and they have lost their way to the other world. Sim. Fl. Marian says that „they eat their family members one by one or they eat only their hearts and suck their blood”.
The secular people struggle with fatalism and beliefs. For example if you whistle in the house you call the demons, on the 29th of august you should not sweep because you could disturb the dead, but the spirits could be satisfied by giving them apples, pears or cucumbers, every falling star marks the death of a person, or the well known "if you don’t want a demon to enter your house you should put garlic above the door and at windows."
Traditional Romanian ceremonies harmoniously include both the sacred and the profane. Burial ceremony and those connected with death are the best preserved Romanian customs. It is believed that death represents the transition from the material life to the spiritual one.
In conclusion, all the myths about Dracula have sprung from the intense Romanian folk beliefs. Bram Stoker's well known novel "Dracula" was inspired by the bizarre beliefs about death and strigoi (vampires) and the legends about the real ruler - Vlad Tepes - especially the ones about his cruel punishments.