The “Drekavac”, literally translated as “the screamer” or “the screecher”, is a mythical creature in South Slavic mythology. The name is derived from the verb “drečati” (“to screech”).
The creature has been variously described: in some folk tales it has been depicted in the form of an undead man that came out of the grave during night time to haunt people while, in others, it has been depicted as an undead child, unbaptized, that rose out from its grave during night time to haunt its parents.
In Eastern Serbia, it has been even depicted in the form of a humanoid canine creature that walks on its back legs.
In the vicinity of Maglaj, Bosnia and Herzegovina, it has been depicted in the form of ghosts of soldiers that wander around during night time, scaring people.
In the vicinity of Kozarska Dubica, in the same country, it has been depicted as a vampire-like undead man that rises out of the grave during night time, and wanders around scaring people.
In the vicinity of Arilje, southwestern Serbia, it has been depicted in form of a long-necked long-legged creature with a cat-like head while, in Sredačka župa, Kosovo, it has been depicted in the form of a one-legged humanoid creature with glowing eyes that wanders around during night time and scares people.
Either way, a modern description of a supposed drekavac describes it as a canine creature similar to a dog or some kind of bird.
The monster was originally thought to have come from the souls of sinful men, or from children who died unbaptized.
It was popularly believed to be visible only at night, especially during the twelve days of Christmas, called unbaptized days in the Serbian language, and in early spring, when other demons and mythical creatures were believed to be more active.
When assuming the form of a child, it predicts someone’s death, while in its animal form, it predicts cattle disease.
The drekavac is believed to avoid dogs and bright light, and if the shadow of drekavac falls upon some person then that person will turn sick and die.
The Drekavac is also mentioned in literature, including in a short story by Branko Ćopić, “Brave Mita and the drekavac from the swamp”, in which a group of superstitious fishermen stop fishing because they hear mysterious yells in the pond, where they were usually fishing, and start to believe that the sound they heard was the drekavac, which led to hunger in the village.
The protagonist of the story, a courageous village boy named Mita, investigates this mystery and captures the “drekavac”, which turns out to be a great bittern, a very rare bird for the area. The same monster was mentioned in another story of the same author called “Eagles Fly Early”.
Either way this legend is created mainly to scare children and stop them from going alone far from home.
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