I fell down a research rabbit hole today after my friend, Karin, she of the watermelon spitting competition, sent me a Wikipedia entry entitled ‘Vampire pumpkins and watermelons’. The article quotes the research of Serbian ethnologist, Tatomir P. Vukanović who studied vampire beliefs amongst the Romani people of the Balkans in the 1930s and 40s.
The text that Wikipedia concerns itself with is from Section 4, of III. The Vampire published in the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, Vol. 37, Issue 1, 1958, entitled ‘The Source, Kinds and Appearance of Vampires of Vegetable Origin’. I know this as I managed to track down the original journals (the research is published over several) and it is absolutely fascinating.
Amongst familiar vampire lore, Vukanović details other more charming beliefs such as certain vampires like to do housework, while others ‘live in mills and go out at night to prepare wedding celebrations’ (p25). And if you’re after scaring them away, find a set of girl and boy twins born on a Saturday and get them to wear their shirts and drawers inside out.
However, the other bit of the folklore quoted on the Wikipedia page, ‘that any inanimate object left outside during the night of a full moon will become a vampire’ proved more tricky. I couldn’t find the source. Lots of repetition of that sentence and a variation on the theme in one book, but nothing expanding the folklore, or mentioning the full moon in this context. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t miss it in the Vukanović, although in Section 5, he does talk about agricultural tools becoming vampires, which definitely fulfils the inanimate object part, just nothing about the full moon. Maybe it’s in the Pratchett version. Feel free to find to enlighten me.
But sod it, it’s the full moon tonight, and I want to see a watermelon fight a pumpkin and then both of them turn into vampires. This is the folklore content I’m here for. Consequently, there’s now a watermelon and a butternut squash (apparently any kind of pumpkin will do) out the front about to be blessed with some full moon goodness. Anything could happen in the next 10 hours. Of course, I will be asleep for a lot of these (fingers crossed), so will have to rely on before and after pictures to detect any movement. I am totally committed to the folklore, but I also have to function tomorrow.
However, even if there are no obvious signs of vampirism in the morning, all is not lost. If they start shaking and making noises like a trim phone in about 10 days’ time, I can be confident in their transformation. And should that happen, I know plenty of ways to deter them from coming near me, although I don’t think my garlic is quite ready yet to deploy. Besides if I do fall foul, according to Vukanović, in Podrima, Kosovo, it’s believed that if I can survive being a vampire for thirty years, I’ll revert to being human again.
First week in August Weatherwatch – Day Three: unextraordinary weather.
Bane, T. (2010) Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology, Jefferson, North Carolina, McFarland & Company, Inc.
Beresford, M. (2008) From Demons to Dracula: The Creation of the Modern Vampire Myth, London, Reaktion Books Ltd
Leendertz, L. (2019) The Almanac, A Seasonal Guide to 2020, London, Mitchell Beazley
Vukanović, T.P. (1958) ‘The Vampire’ in Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, Vol. 37, Issue 1, pp. 21-31 [online] https://search.proquest.com/docview/1299021299?accountid=14660
Vukanović, T.P. (1958) ‘The Vampire’ in Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, Vol. 37, Issue 3, pp. 111-118 [online] https://search.proquest.com/docview/1299030188?accountid=14660