Watermelons and vampire pumpkins from the Balkans

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Ever heard of watermelons and vampire pumpkins? They are a particular popular belief documented by Tatomir Vukanovic in Kosovo in the mid-1900s; a treasure to be rediscovered.

Pumpkins and vampire watermelons

According to the legend, some particular pumpkins and watermelonscome alive during the nights of the full moon, giving life to macabre dances that culminate with spite to the population. This transformation would be evidenced by the appearance of some particular blood-like spots, inside which there would be a sort of small white worms.

vampire watermelons
A Romani family

This singular popular belief was documented between 1933 and 1948 by the Serbian ethnologist Tatomir Vukanovic who was able to hear these beliefs live during a trip to his homeland. Unfortunately we can only mention the latter, as this story was reported exclusively in oral form among the Muslim gypsies of Kosovo; this does not however remove the possibility of being very precise about something so fantastic.

The legend of the vampire watermelon

Vukanovic was in fact one of the best ever in his field and his description is incredibly complete and full of details. According to what is collected, the transformation takes place if these fruits are kept for more than 10 days; at that point the pumpkins / watermelons gather and start to shake each other, making sounds like “brrrl, brrrl”. At this point they would move around the houses trying to harm people, but the people do not particularly fear them because they know that the damage they can receive is relative.

vampire watermelons
An example of a vampire watermelon

To defeat them, it would be enough to boil and reduce them to a pulp, then sweep the remains with a broom and burn the latter; according to some particular traditions, pumpkins kept after Christmas would become vampires. Given the scarce botanical and food knowledge of the men of those times, it is presumable to think that this legend simply served to avoid consuming rotten pumpkins or watermelons. Except for the night hops, in fact, all the other features suggest a simple rotting, an element to which all the mythology of vampirism was linked.

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