I’m thinking about changing Vampire Wednesdays to another day. I would like to have Witches or Werewolves on Wednesdays. I like the WW of it better than VW, but I’m not sure. What do you think?
Anyways on to coffin talk….
Before the seventeenth century the dead were wrapped in a burial shroud and placed in a shallow grave. (Not the six feet we currently dig.) During epidemics burials were done quickly in really shallow graves. Predators could easily dig up the recently buried body – and… well, you know. So that is where the myth that a vampire may eat his own body. At times a stake was pushed through the torso. Anywhere in the torso to keep the body in the ground. It could be made of anything.
The use of coffins was mostly by the wealthy. (You had to pay for it and only got one use from it. Not very cost-effective.) The poor would be transported in a coffin to the graveyard where the body wrapped in a shroud was removed and dropped into the cold waiting ground.
A special coffin called the “Slip” was invented for this reason. The “Slip” had hinges on the bottom allowing the body to be dropped without anyone seeing it. (You really wouldn’t like to watch the wrapped body be removed from a coffin and dropped into the ground. Can you imagine how many widows fainted during that processes?)
When a vampire was suspected the coffin would be brought up. The body would be staked. In some areas of Europe would attach the clothes and/or limbs to the side of the coffin with nails, so the vampire couldn’t leave the coffin or begin to eat his body.
Coffins become popular for literary vampires in the nineteenth century. As they were believed to be dead and the dead were buried in coffins. However, Lord Ruthven and Varney the Vampyre didn’t have coffins. Carmilla didn’t either. Bram Stoker’s Dracula also lacked the famous coffin; he instead had crates that held his native soil.
My pals at Deadly Ever After have a cool post about nailing the body into the coffin. In case you would like to know more.