International Ghosts

By Sarah V. Hines, on October 31, 2019

To wrap up the month of October, we’re looking and some of the most popular ghost stories from around the world. Many countries have their own legends of restless souls that haunt their landscapes. Often, these stories were created as a precautionary tale to follow the behavior that was deemed moral. There seems to be no culture that is without these tales, and many of them follow the same patterns. This is quite a feat, as they originated long before the days of global connection through the Internet and social media. Below are a couple of examples of some of the stories you can hear when talking to locals in many countries around the world. 

    Gjenganger, Scandinavia




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    The Gjenganger of Scandinavia looks like any normal person. However, they’re the restless souls of the deceased that have come back to torment the living. Dating back to the era of the Vikings, the Gjenganger attack at night while the victim is sleeping. They deliver a pinch, known as a “death pinch”, which will turn blue the following morning, and then eventually kill the receiver through a contracted disease. There are a few ways to ward off the Gjenganger, such as displaying Christian symbolism throughout the home. Another method is to circle the church three times with the coffin to prevent the deceased from becoming a Gjenganger after burial. 
     

    Strigoi, Romania




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    The Strigoi is the ancestor to the modern vampire stories. They were corporeal entities that could shapeshift into various animals and lived off human blood. The earliest report of a Strigoi was in the 1570s when a man was said to have been attacking people of his village weeks after his passing. He was allegedly stopped when he was beheaded. In the 1800s, Strigoi were said to attack infants. A common means of prevention for this was to cast a stone over one’s shoulder after the birth of a new baby, identifying the stone for the mouth of the strigoi. As recently as 1969, several strange suspicious deaths of relatives followed the death of a local man in the city of Căpăţâneni. Exhumation of his body revealed no decomposition, his face twisted and his eyes wide open. He was burned as a means to stop the attacks. Many factors are believed to exist in creating Strigoi, including being the seventh child of the same sex in a family, having red hair or dying upon being cursed by a witch. 
     

    Jiangshi, China




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    The Jiangshi of China are comparable to zombies in popular Western culture. They are often attributed to improper burial techniques, such as failing to bury the body immediately after a funeral, or to a violent and dramatic death. The Jiangshi are often dressed in Qing-era clothing (from the time that the myth evolved) and can range from mildly decomposed to extremely decomposed in appearance. Because of the lack of mobility due to rigor mortis, the Jiangshi must hop to move, holding its arms out to steady itself. It sustains itself by drained the qi (the life force) out of a living person, because it is said that it finds its own appearance terrified, mirrors are said to be very effective in warding off the Jiangshi.

Many cultures have their own ghost stories. What are some common stories that you remember being told? Feel free to let us know in the comments. Do you want to visit the home of the Jiangshi to hear the stories for yourself? Visit us on APVI.com to get started on a China Tourist Visa process today.