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Russian Vampire Folk tale: Death at the Wedding

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Death at the Wedding Edit

The Russian vampire folk tale, "Death at the Wedding,"[1] was published by A.N. Afanas'ev', also known as, Alexander Afanaseif, in his earliest work Russian Folktales. However, over the years, it was adapted by W.R. Ralston who translated the story to English, and renamed it "The Soldier and the Vampire," [2] then published it in his work Russian Folk-Tale, in 1873.

Summary Edit

The tale begins with a soldier protagonist who is released on home leave, and ambitiously sets off on a journey to his native village. While visiting his old friend, the miller at his mill not far from his village, he discovers some terrible news. The miller cries that God has punished them by sending a recently deceased sorcerer to raise from his grave every night to haunt and terrorize the village. However, the soldier is not easily frighten by the words of the miller, and exclaims that he belongs to the State; thus no harm can come to him, since he is almost immortally undefeatable. Then, sets off once again to continue on his journey.

Along the road, the soldier passes by a cemetery, and a light on one of the graves catches his eye. With curiosity, he approaches the grave to find the sorcerer sitting down and stitching his boots nearby a fire. At this moment, the soldier and sorcerer meet for the first time. The sorcerer stops working on his boots, then kindly invites the soldier to a wedding at the village.

At the wedding, all goes well and the soldier and sorcerer celebrate the newly-weds with food and drinks, along with the rest of the guests and relatives. However, the sorcerer, after one drink after another, soon explodes in anger and chases away everyone at the wedding, except the married couple and the soldier. The sorcerer puts the bride and groom in a deep trance, pricks their arms with a pin, and separately collects their blood in two vails. Afterwards, the sorcerer and the soldier leave the couples cottage and head back to the sorcerer's grave.

On their way to the grave, the soldier asks the sorcerer why he has collected the blood in the two vails. The sorcerer tells him that he did it so the bride and groom can die. As they continue to walk closer to their destination; the sorcerer reveals more information. He reveals that the only way to revive the couple is to cut their heels and restore their own blood back into their wounds. Last important thing he reveals to the soldier is how he can kill him for good. In order to kill him, they must collect 100 cartloads of aspen wood to cremate him with. However, the soldier must be careful, because while being cremated his belly will erupt with insects, reptiles, and other sorts of creatures. He must not let any escape; for if one does, his soul will carry inside it, and he will be revived again. With that last thing being said, they arrive at the sorcerer's grave.

At their arrival, the sorcerer is aware that he has to kill the soldier who now knows information fatal to him. Thus, he shows no mercy, and fights the soldier for hours and hours, to the point were the soldier is almost at defeat. Luckily, the cocks' crow at the sight of sunrise, and the sorcerer becomes lifeless. The soldier takes this opportunity to take the two vails; head back to the village to revive the bride and groom. He then seeks for the help of the villagers to collect 100 cartloads of aspen to cremate the sorcerer with at his grave. As the sorcerer was being cremated , the villagers and the soldier carefully made sure no insects, reptiles, or any other creatures escape the fire. All the villagers rejoiced when the sorcerer was defeated. As for the soldier, he was rewarded with fortunate and a welcoming stay at home, until it was time for him to go back and serve his time as a soldier. However, after he was done serving his time, he was able to retire a rich man and lived happy ever after ("Death at the Village"). [1]

The Modernization of Vampires Edit

  • The folk tale, "Death at the Wedding," is one of the earliest depictions of vampires. Since, vampires have been modernized in films, television shows, novels, etc. However, in some cases certain aspects of these creatures are repeatedly seen in modernized depictions of vampires. For instance, in the television show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Season 1, Episode 1, "Welcome to Hellmouth," the vampires are portrayed as antagonist much like the story above. The vampires also only ever appear at night. There is also a specific way for killing them. The character, Buffy, a teenage girl vampire slayer, uses a stake to stab the vampires in the heart to kill them for good (Whedon, 1997). [3]

Sources Edit

  1. Death at the Wedding. Origins of the European Vampire. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 19-21. Web. 4 Apr. 2017.
  2. S, W. R., Ralston. "The Soldier and the Vampire." Vampire and Ghost Stories from Russia. Ed. D. L. Ashliman. N.p., 6 Dec. 1997. Web. 4 Apr. 2017.
  3. Whedon, Joss. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 1 Episode 1, "Welcome to Hellmouth". The WB. 10 Mar. 1997. Dailymotion. Web. 4 Apr. 2017.

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