World Dracula Day Date in the current year: May 26, 2024

World Dracula Day Count Dracula is one of the most iconic fictional characters and the “archetypal” vampire in Western fiction, so it is not surprising at all that there is a holiday dedicated to him. World Dracula Day is celebrated annually on May 26 to commemorate the first publication of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula that introduced the eponymous character.

The concept of malevolent creatures that feed on human blood has existed in the folklore of many cultures for millennia, but the first depictions of vampires in literary fiction date back to the 18th century. Vampires as we know them today first appeared in poems by 18th-century German and English poets.

The first notable work of Romantic vampire fiction was John William Polidori’s short story The Vampyre, conceived during a friendly literary contest held by Lord Byron at his villa near Lake Geneva in the summer of 1816 (by the way, the same contest produced Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus).

However, it is Bram Stocker’s novel Dracula, first published in 1897, that is considered the most influential work of vampire fiction and the definitive description of vampirism in literature. Set in Romania, Hungary and England, it tells the story of the Transylvanian nobleman Count Dracula, who turns out to be a vampire and is ultimately killed by a group of people led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing. The story was heavily inspired by Transylvanian history and folklore.

The titular character is widely believed to be loosely based on the Wallachian ruler Vlad the Impaler, also known as Vlad III Dracula. The word “dracula” means “son of the dragon”; it is a reference to the sobriquet of his father, Vlad II Dracul, who took his name from the Order of the Dragon, of which he became a member in 1431. Over time, however, the word dracul or dracula has come to mean “devil” in Romanian.

However, Stoker’s notes don’t mention Vlad the Impaler; he came across the name Dracula in a public library during a holiday in the coastal town of Whitby in North Yorkshire and picked it because he thought it meant “devil”. Stoker’s visit to Whitby is thought to be part of his inspiration for Dracula; a section of the novel is set in Whitby and mentions the graveyard of St. Mary’s Church and the 199 steps leading up to the church from the Old Town.

Dracula was published in London on May 26, 1897. Following its publication, the main traits and characteristics of vampires as described by Stoker became the basis of subsequent depictions of vampires in fiction, and Count Dracula has come to be regarded as the quintessential vampire.

World Dracula Day was initiated in 2012 by the Whitby Dracula Society 1897, a cultural society based in Whitby that was created to celebrate the cultural impact of Bram Stocker’s Dracula and Whitby’s association with the famous novel. You can celebrate this amazing holiday by re-reading Dracula (or reading it for the first time if you haven’t yet), watching one of its many adaptations, throwing a vampire-themed party, or planning a trip to Whitby, the Bram Stocker Festival in Dublin, or even Romania. And don’t forget to spread the word about the holiday on social media with the hashtags #WorldDraculaDay and #DraculaDay.

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World Dracula Day, international holidays, cultural observances, Bram Stoker, Dracula