21st Century Vampire Scare in Serbia Jan 20, 2016 0:32:34 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Jan 20, 2016 0:32:34 GMT -5
21st Century Vampire Scare in Serbia
ZAROŽJE, Serbia – In 2012, the municipal council of Zarožje issued a public health warning to residents, instructing them to place garlic on windowsills and door frames and keep holy crosses in their homes. The reason for the warning? Sava Savanovic, Serbia's most notorious vampire, was thought to be on the loose.
After peaking in the medieval era, panics induced by suspected supernatural beings are rare in the 21st century. But the legend of Savanovic has a strong hold over Zarožje residents. The vampire's story goes back to before 1880, when noted Serbian author Milovan Glišic used a retelling of the traditional folklore tale as the premise for his book After Ninety Years. It purports that after being killed for murdering the woman he loved because he had been denied her hand in marriage, Savanovic has haunted a water mill located on the Rogacica River in Zarožje. Legend has it those who went to the mill to process their grain risked being preyed upon by the waiting vampire.
The mill that Sava Savanovic was rumored to haunt remained in operation until the 1950s, serving the needs of the small village nearby. After its closure, the Jagodic family, members of which still own the mill to this day, began to promote it as a tourist attraction because of the legend behind it and its connection with Milovan Glišic. The building, already aged and deteriorating when it was closed, spent the next several decades in disrepair and disuse. Either out of genuine fear of disturbing Savanovic's lair or to improve the mystique of the daylight-only tourist attraction, the Jagodic family never performed structural repairs to the rotting mill. In 2012, the decades of exposure to the elements and lack of maintenance at last caused the old mill to collapse.
With the noted vampire believed to be homeless after the loss of his favored haunt, the mayor and village council of Zarožje issued an unusual public warning to those living in the vicinity. "People are worried, everybody knows the legend of this vampire and the thought that he is now homeless and looking for somewhere else and possibly other victims is terrifying people," said Mayor Miodrag Vujetic in an interview with ABC News at the time. "We are all frightened."
Despite the serious tenor of the mayor's statement, two motives – one sincere, one shady – have been reported concerning the public warning. The first is the warning was issued out of a genuine belief that Savanovic was both real and dangerous. The second, more widely reported by the few Western news agencies that covered the 2012 incident, was that the warning and other official statements had been made in order to draw more tourists to the village and surrounding areas. In his 2012 interview with ABC News, Mayor Vujetic defended his village: "I understand that people who live elsewhere in Serbia are laughing at our fears," he said, "but here most people have no doubt that vampires exist."
Another statement to the same effect was made by Slobodan Jagodic, one of the owners of the mill at the time of its collapse. "We were too scared to repair it, not to disturb Sava Savanovic .... It's even worse now that it collapsed due to lack of repair," Jagodic said during an interview, also with ABC News.
In the years since Sava Savanovic's fabled home collapsed, no deaths or diseases have been attributed to his pernicious influence – but his resurgence did result in a brief spike in garlic sales in the region.
Source: Duncan Ryan, AtlasObscura, January 19, 2016.