Vampire-Human Offspring of Folklore Offer Insights into the Hybrid Baby of ‘Breaking Dawn’

In Breaking Dawn, Part 1, vampire Edward and human Bella make a baby. The fetus needs blood for nourishment, matures at an accelerated rate (from conception to birth in less than a month), and threatens to crush Bella “from the inside out.”

This made us wonder: In the folklore of vampires, are there human-vampire hybrids? For insights, we spoke to University of Arizona professor George Gutsche, who has taught a course on vampires and werewolves for the past five years.

Is there any record in folklore of vampires mating with humans?

Much of the folklore about human-vampire offspring originates from the Balkan region of southeastern Europe. Dhampir, glog, svetocher, vampirdzhiya and vampirovic all refer to descendants of human and vampire parents.

Do human-vampire offspring have special powers or weaknesses?

Yes. In the relatively limited folklore records we have about them, they have special powers—usually the ability to detect otherwise unnoticeable (or shape-shifted) vampires and to destroy them. In folklore, vampires don’t shape-shift into bats. More often, they disguise themselves as pumpkins.

Also, hybrids don’t thirst for blood or possess the immortality of the “undead”. Although vampires safely expose themselves to daylight in folklore (Dracula walks the streets of London during the day in Bram Stoker’s novel), they are still associated with night and darkness. Hybrids, however, have no more affinity for darkness than ordinary humans.

Do the offspring have a closer bond with humans or with vampires?

They are closer to humans in folklore, since [the offspring], too, are alive—not reanimated corpses. Vampires tend to dislike them, and humans tend to view them (and their special powers) positively, because they can destroy vampires. Without the magical powers of hybrid offspring, humans have no way to detect these concealed vampires until it’s too late.

The offspring, who are usually male, are given a special status within the community. Some folklore also references female offspring, so evidence of [the child’s gender in Breaking Dawn] does exist.

Are the offspring dangerous to the mother in any way?

No, not in folklore. Though, the father (vampire) can be dangerous to the mother; he comes to her every night and drains her of her energy (so that she looks like a corpse in the morning).

Accelerated pregnancies aren’t mentioned in any accounts that I am aware of. In fact, some accounts specify the whole nine months.

Is there anything unusual about the way the offspring are conceived?

From the human perspective, the act fits the definition of necrophilia, since the vampire is considered dead. In the U.K., the depiction of necrophilia is illegal. So I wonder why no one has been arrested in connection with the movie.
-Joel Goldberg

Human Journey