Despite the occurrence of vampire-like creatures in ancient civilizations, the folklore for the entity we know today as the vampire originates almost exclusively from early 18th-century southeastern Europe.
Belief in such legends was so pervasive at this time that in some areas it caused mass hysteria and even public executions of people believed to be vampires.
Many theories have been proposed to explain the cultural roots of vampire lore. Comments from scholars range from premature burial to the early ignorance of the body's decomposition cycle after death.
There are also number of real medical conditions that might result in vampiric behavior or appearance.
Last but not least, vampires are often associated with occult rituals and paranormal experiences where blood is the metaphore of something more subtile.