Bloody Mary – ghost story origins


“This is the Bloody Mary legend that I learned when I was a kid. So, she was a woman who lived in this big beautiful Victorian house. A man was planning on marrying her and she was very very beautiful, and she always wore this ribbon around her neck. On the night of the wedding, he goes ‘can I take the ribbon off your neck?’ and she says ‘no.’ Every night she says no and then one night while she is sleeping, he pulls the ribbon off her neck and her head falls off. And because she was Bloody Mary, if you stand in the mirror and you spin around three times and say ‘Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, come and haunt me’ she’ll come and cut your head off.”


B is an informant from Southern California. This is a story she learned when she was a child from her friends. She never performed the described ritual because she was always too scared that it might actually happen. I gathered this story from her while we collected ghost stories from each other.


Bloody Mary is a very interesting ghost story because the name always stays the same, but almost every single time I have heard the reason or story behind the name, it is different. Some are more involved, like this one, and sometimes the there is no story just the ritual on how to summon her. The legend of Bloody Mary is often utilized as a kind of dare amongst children to see who is brave enough to complete the ritual. However different the stories tend to be, many aspects are similar across the different versions, such as saying the name three times, standing in front of a mirror, and the fact that Bloody Mary will harm you in some way if you summon her. She is never perceived to be a nice spirit, so these reoccurring aspects likely appear in the original legend of the Bloody Mary ghost. This ghost story is considered a legend because of its wide proliferation, the potential truth factor, and its real world setting. Although many brush it off as a just silly game for children, many do believe in it. Some might claim to not believe in it, but still will not preform the ritual “just in case” or out of fear.