How did you learn about Bloody Mary?
“When I was in Hebrew school, a teacher told me that Mary was related to Jewish history. She was a Jewish figure that would haunt you, and the teacher was trying to connect it to Jewish curriculum. I was like ‘why are you trying to ruin this story’, like yes, I was genuinely afraid but that was so stupid (laughs).”
How do you play Bloody Mary?
“You get into a bathroom, close the door, turn off the lights, look into a mirror, say bloody Mary 3 times, she’s supposed to appear and do something bad.”
My informant is my roommate. She was raised in Conservative Judaism and attended Hebrew School from elementary school through high school. This story was collected when we were talking about Judaism during dinner.
Many young children are taught a version of Bloody Mary. Various accounts can be seen in Alan Dundes’ article “Bloody Mary in the Mirror: A Ritual Reflection of Pre-Pubescent Anxiety.” In my own experiences, I’ve been told that Bloody Mary is a wife who got killed before her wedding or a woman who died in a bloody car crash. However, in the case of this specific account, the person teaching this game to my informant tried to alter the backstory so it would fit into her religious education. My informant’s Hebrew school teacher saw the value in this myth and its impact on children, so the teacher tried morph it to fit her agenda. My informant saw straight through this attempt, but still ended up fearing the figure, Bloody Mary.
Dundes, Alan. “Bloody Mary in the Mirror: A Ritual Reflection of Pre-Pubescent Anxiety.” Western Folklore, vol. 57, no. 2/3, 1998, pp. 119–135. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1500216.