"It is the eve of St George's Day"
An Orthodox icon showing Saint George
Public DomainAn Orthodox icon showing Saint George - Credit: wikipedia

 St. George’s Day honours the man who famously saved a town and its princess from a fearsome dragon. It is celebrated on the date of his death, usually taken as 29th April. In Dracula, St. George’s Day falls on May 5th, following the Eastern Orthodox tradition of using the Julian calendar. According to legend, St. George died as a martyr when he refused to give up his Christian faith before the pagan Roman emperor Diocletian.

 

Emily Gerard, a 19th Century author who lived in Transylvania and recorded its culture and traditions, wrote about St. George's Day in an essay about Transylvanian superstition. This was later included in The Land Beyond the Forest, a book read by Bram Stoker:

 

"Perhaps the most important day in the year is St George's, the 23rd of April (corresponds to our 5th of May), the eve of which is still frequently kept by occult meetings taking place at night in lonely caverns or within ruined walls, and where all the ceremonies usual to the celebration of a witches' Sabbath are put into practice.

The feast itself is the great day to beware of witches, to counteract whose influence square-cut blocks of green turf are placed in front of each door and window. This is supposed effectually to bar their entrance to the house or stables, but for still greater safety it is usual here for the peasants to keep watch all night by the sleeping cattle."

 

Read more about the St. George's Day traditions here.