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The Real History Behind Hemlock Grove’s Upir

The Netflix show Hemlock Grove, based on the book of the same name, mentions a being known as the upir. But what is this creature and did the show’s writers create it? Oh no, Dear Readers, they didn’t. The upir is a vampire from European folklore, a vampire species once believed to be real. Along with the upir are the Upior, Upor, and the Upyr. Four different vampire species, all beings that once plagued the poor citizens of Eastern Europe.  Read more about them below.

Upir (or opir)
A vampire species found in the Ukraine. It is quite similar to the Russian legend of the upyr, but is different in one way – it consumes large amounts of fish. This name is also used for vampires in some regions of Czechoslovakia.

This is one of the most common vampire species in Russian lore. The beliefs on this particular vampire vary from region to region, but the stories are most developed in Ukraine and White Russia. The upyr is an incredibly bloodthirsty vampire, one that prefers to prey first on children, and then on their parents. They have teeth like iron that they use to gnaw on anything that’s in their way, like when their hands are trapped in the frozen earth during Russia’s freezing winters.  Like Polish vampires, sunlight doesn’t harm this vampire. The upyr wanders during the day, usually from noon until midnight. When attempting to destroy this beast, it is said that one should hook thread to one of the upyr’s buttons so that it can be tracked back to its lair. Once discovered, the creature should be drenched in holy water and then staked in the heart. Only strike it once, for stabbing it twice will bring it back to life and it will be more fearsome than before. In other regions it was believed that the upyr devoured its victim’s hearts and to kill it you either chopped off its head or burned it to ash.

Upior (or upier)
An eastern Slavic name for vampire, a word used the most in Poland. Like the upyr, it rests during the night and preys on its victims during noon and midnight. It is recognized by its barbed tongue and its incredible love for blood. Its thirst is legendary. It doesn’t simply feed on blood now and then, the upior sleeps in it, drinks it and literally explodes with it when staked (like the vamps in True Blood). To kill an upior one must either stake it in the heart or decapitate it. It was said that to protect yourself from an attack by this monster you mixed vampire blood with flour, baked a kind of blood bread with it and then ate it.

A Byelorussian vampire. This vampire species was known for riding horses and its ability to transform into other forms.

And there you have it my beloved vampire lovers, the real history behind Hemlock Grove’s upir. Four vampire species found in age-old vampire myths and legends from Eastern Europe.

What are your thoughts on these folktales? Can you believe that once upon a time people actually believed in these tales?

– Moonlight

Moonlight (aka Amanda) loves to write about, read about and learn about everything pertaining to vampires. You will most likely find her huddled over a book of vampire folklore with coffee in hand. Touch her coffee and she may bite you (and not in the fun way).

Hemlock Groveopirrussian vampireupierupiorupirUporUpyrvampire historyvampire lore

Moonlight • May 10, 2013

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