Vampires vs. Garlic: And the Winner Is….
You’ve heard the story a million times: when a vampire encounters garlic, they are immediately and violently repulsed. The movie scene is also a classic. The vampire slayer, in the midst of an animated brawl with Nosferatu, pulls out a necklace of garlic and the vampire flees in disgust. Donning garlic is a method of protecting that any sane vampire hunter utilizes. But where did the legend originate? Out of all the herbs, why is it the pungent garlic that does the trick? History reveals the origins of this interesting tale.
In ancient Egypt garlic was revered as an herb, believed to hold magical healing powers. From the Egyptians garlic travelled to other areas of the world, and as it spread so did its uses and powers. The blubs became known not only for their healing qualities, but also as protection against evil spirits. When the bubonic plague stuck, garlic became the first defense mechanism for many against “supernatural evils.” In Slavic regions, garlic was used often in rituals to protect people against demons, witches, and sorcerers. St. Andrew himself, known in the Bible as the first disciple of Christ, was said to be the “donor of garlic to humanity.”
Vampire folklore was widespread in southern Slavic countries and Romania around that time, and garlic was the recommended method of defense. Not only was garlic used to fight against vampires, but it was also thought to attract them (thus making a vampire hunters job easier!). A vampire in hiding could be spotted by not being willing to eat garlic. And the belief in vampires is till strong today! As early as the 1970’s, a Romanian church distributed garlic during service, observing those who refused to eat it and determining who among the congregation was “cursed.”
To prevent someone from “turning” into a vampire, people commonly stuffed cloves of garlic into corpses. Cloves were placed in the nose, mouth, and ears to “ward off the evil.” Garlic was also commonly smashed and smeared across the eyes to protect the deceased from turning into vampires. If a vampire was caught and killed, he or she was beheaded and the open wound was filled with garlic to keep the evil from returning to the body. Beyond Slavic areas, China and Malaysia rubbed garlic to the foreheads of children to prevent vampire attacks. In the Philippines garlic was rubbed on the armpits (imagine the smell!). More common than rubbing on the body was hanging strings of garlic from doors and entryways to ward of the evil vamps. And of course Bram Stoker’s Dracula helped to spread the folklore and use of garlic in warding off vampires further.
Today the belief in vampires has diminished, although there are pockets of devout believers across the world. Garlic in most of these cases is still regarded as an effective and essential tool for protection. Of course, the million-dollar question is how do we really know if garlic protects us from the undead? We hope we never have to put garlic to the test! But if you do you will want to peel the garlic first! Much stronger weapon against vampires! Watch our amazing garlic peeler video for fighting vampires.