Tag Archives: Bloody Mary

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.

Bloody Mary in the School Bathroom


When she was in elementary school, T recalls going into the girl’s restroom with a group of female classmates. She remembers it being an eerily cold and cloudy day, so she and her friends believed it was the perfect opportunity to put the Legend of Bloody Mary to the test. Before they had to line up to return to the classroom, T stood in a huddle with her friends before the only mirror in the girl’s restroom. After chanting the name three times, each girl began to scream and sprint from the restroom in fear. Afterwards, each claimed to have seen an older woman, but each girl described the woman quite differently. T recalls seeing a ghostly phantom with bloody and dejected features, and says that, after that day, she and her friends never used that bathroom ever again.


The Legend of Bloody Mary claims that if you chant “Bloody Mary” at a mirror three times, a woman– believed to be the historical and genocidal British queen, Bloody Mary— appears before you.


The trend of challenging the Legend of Bloody Mary is extremely common among young, pre-pubescent children, especially girls. At this age in life, young girls look forward to the daunting prospect of adulthood, or womanhood. The Bloody Mary challenge can actually be viewed as a metaphor for how the uncertainty of puberty and receiving one’s first menstrual cycle can be a terrifying experience. Like in T’s story, young girls confront a mirror, which in return projects back an image of themselves. Once completing the challenge and chanting Bloody Mary, the girls are faced with another image: the image of an older, often bloodier woman. This can be taken as a literal reflection of puberty, menstruation and other foreign aspects of womanhood through the eyes of young girls.

Loira do Banheiro, The Brazilian Bloody Mary


Me: ok, we’re recording

M: Oh okay great. Let’s start with the Brazilian version of Bloody Mary. So we call her the blonde woman. It’s a legend, like of course, as every child would when I was in school and I was like elementary school, of course, the children were like ‘oh yeah! Its a legend, but it actually happened here in this school. Umm it’s basically a story that she was a girl she was blond she’s in school bullied. And she went to the bathroom to cry, and then she slipped, hit her head, and died

Me: oh my god

M: and there’s a specific stall that it happened in. In my school it was the bigger one for accessibility. after that I never went to that bathroom again by the way. Cause I was, I was like ‘i don’t believe in it’ but still like ‘Yeah I’m gonna use the other one.’ umm, and to summon her you had to like throw like a one piece of hair. And then..

Me: your hair?

M: yes

Me: Okay

M: on the toilet and then like flush three times, go to the mirror and say like. Uhh loira do banheiro, loira do banheiro, loira do banheiro. Which, loira do banheiro is blond from the bathroom. And then she would appear and kill you.

Me: obvi

M: yes. And then I remember I had a friend who like, my friends would go to the bathroom to try it, but that’s like– it would only work in the girls’ bathroom and there were two boys. So I don’t know how they were doing it!? Cause I never went with them cause I was like I’m not doing that. But yeah. Dunno what they were doin’, but yeah whatever we were kids so it’s umm

Me: what’s your take on what that means? Like what’s the meaning, what’s the story?

M: ummm I don’t know. I think it’s, probably for either just– it’s just a scary story the children told each other or maybe to make them behave when like between going to the bathroom and going back to class. But yeah, I think that it’s just a scary story that kids created.

Me: alright


The informant, M, is a 19-year-old USC international student from Brazil. She delivered this piece in the workroom of a campus center before class alongside other pieces in order to share some personal and Brazilian folklore. She learned about this legend growing up in Brazil.

The informant suggests that the legend is either “just a scary story the children told each other” or something adults said to make kids behave in bathrooms.


M says that this is a Brazilian version of Bloody Mary. Indeed the two figures share much: They each appear in girls’ bathrooms. they both are summoned by some action and three repetitions of their name. both kill their summoner. And both fall into that space of legend where people will say they don’t believe, but then avoid the thing/action/place anyway.

Because of this association with Bloody Mary, this legend may also be related to the fear of menstruation (as other scholars have drawn the connection with Bloody Mary). This seems believable because both stories are set in bathrooms and are most popular among young girls, but I hesitate because of the Loira do Banheiro lack of blood references. Instead, there is the focus on hair: you put a piece of hair in the toilet to summon her, and her name-worthy trait is her blond hair.

There is also the moral included that you should not bully someone because they might die and haunt a bathroom killing children.

Bloody Mary

Informant Information — GD

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 57
  • Occupation: Teacher
  • Residence: San Pedro, California
  • Date of Performance/Collection: March 20, 2022
  • Primary Language: English

This informant learned about Bloody Mary in elementary school in the late 1960s. Most of her friends from school also attended the same church and Bible study group, so they felt like they were a part of a very tightly-knit religious community. She shared this information with me in an in-person interview. 


Can you tell me the story of how you first experienced Bloody Mary?  


When I was in fourth or fifth grade, my group of girlfriends and I learned about the Bloody Mary game from some older girls. Our school bathrooms were really dark– they didn’t have any lights except for windows near the ceiling so they were really creepy. 

In the game, you had to lock yourself in the bathroom alone and stand in front of the mirror. You were supposed to close your eyes, say “Bloody Mary” three times, and then open your eyes. When you opened your eyes, you were supposed to be able to see a ghostly woman in a ballgown with black eyes and crying tears of blood. 

If you were a true Christian and believed in God, she wasn’t supposed to be able to touch you because you were too holy. If you only believed a little bit, she supposedly scratched you and left three bloody lines on your face. And if you didn’t believe in God at all or if you were evil, she was supposed to bring you into the mirror with her. 


Did you ever play the game? 


My friend went first, and she said that she saw Bloody Mary. I went after her but didn’t see anything in the mirror. I wasn’t sure what I did wrong so I lied about it and never admitted that I hadn’t actually seen her. 


This adaptation of Bloody Mary is very interesting to me as it reveals the large role of religious belief in the informant’s folk group. In this story, being exposed as a non-believer results in removal from the community as they are dragged into the mirror and disappear with Bloody Mary. Those of wavering faith are physically marked, seemingly teaching the person a lesson and informing others that the individual needs to be brought back into the community. 

The Ballerina/La Bailarina

Informant Information – SI

  • Nationality: American
  • Age: 20
  • Occupation: Student
  • Residence: Los Angeles, California
  • Date of Performance/Collection: April 20, 2022
  • Primary Language: English

The informant learned about this legend while attending an elementary school in Mexico. They first played the game in fourth or fifth grade, but the legend was well-known by students of all ages at their school. They shared this information with me in an in-person interview. 


So in my elementary school when I was younger, we had this story and game called The Ballerina that was kind of a myth about how our school was built I guess you could say. 

According to the story, before the school was built, there used to be train tracks, like for a passenger train that would go through the city where the school was eventually built. And this is actually not very believable now that I think of it, but according to the story, there was this little girl that was a dancer, a ballerina. And one day, she was dancing on her way home from her dance lessons near the train tracks. Apparently, she was either dancing on the tracks or just near them and fell onto the tracks, but basically, she was on the train tracks and got run over by the train. It was very sad.

So then, after her death, they closed the train tracks and my elementary school was built but the land was always haunted by the ballerina, who would apparently still dance in the halls at night. 

At school, we had a game based on this story that we called The Ballerina, well actually we said La Bailarina because we spoke Spanish. You would go in the bathroom alone and turn off the lights. Then you would look in the mirror and say “Ballerina” three times to summon her. You were supposed to hear music and see her face in the mirror with yours. 


In this piece of folklore, the Ballerina is very similar to Bloody Mary. However, rather than a witch, the Ballerina is the ghost of a child that was killed by an accident. This legend also lacks a religious association that I have seen in some versions of Bloody Mary. 

The informant noted that the premise of this legend is quite strange due to the rarity of passenger trains in Mexico. It seems that this legend could either have emerged as an explanation for the lack of trains or as the result of the disinclination for trains that makes them so uncommon.