• Graveyard Shift

Urban Legends & Folklore Involving Mirrors

How much time do people spend in front of mirrors every day? While an exact number might be difficult to tally, chances are it's fairly high. But these seemingly innocuous personal hygiene tools carry with them some seriously spooky myths and superstitions. Mirror urban legends persist throughout numerous cultures across the world, from the distinctly American slumber party game "Bloody Mary" to the Jewish practice of covering mirrors while sitting Shivah. 

Let's take a look at ten such urban legends and folklore tales involving the commonplace mirror.
  • Photo: lookcatalog / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Bloody Mary

    Just about everyone knows the Bloody Mary legend, though there are many variations on the same basic theme. To conjure the ghost of Bloody Mary - who, it is said, was prematurely buried by her family and tried to claw her way out of her own coffin - you must stand before a mirror in a completely darkened room and say "Bloody Mary" three times (some legends say five). Other methods suggest turning in a circle as you say her name. After the last utterance, Bloody Mary will appear behind you. Better run, or she'll get you!
  • Photo: .craig / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Blue Baby

    Another slumber party staple involving chanting in front of a mirror. In this one, you pretend to rock a baby in your arms and, while standing in the dark in front of the bathroom mirror, say the phrase "Blue Baby" thirteen times. It is said the cerulean infant in question will appear in your arms and scratch you, at which point, you better drop the child and run for your life, otherwise Blue Baby's mother will appear and scream "Give me back my baby!" loud enough to shatter the mirror. If you still don't drop the baby and run, Mama Blue will kill you...
  • Photo: Tim Sheerman-Chase / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Seven Year's Bad Luck

    According to Week in Weird's Josh Sanofsky, "This superstition dates back to the Romans, who believed that life renewed itself every seven years, and that breaking a mirror would thus cause damage to the soul it was reflecting at the time for that duration." Various folk remedies can break the seven year's curse, like soaking the mirror shards in south-flowing water for seven hours, grinding the pieces into a fine dust so that the broken mirror can no longer reflect anything, or placing the shards in a bag and burying them.
  • Photo: Mike Cofrancesco / flickr / CC-BY-ND 2.0


    Catoptromancy is the act of divination via a mirror. Also called enoptromancy, the process was used in ancient Greece and involved a sick person praying to the appropriate god or goddess, then lowering a mirror by a string into a fountain or well and examining the person's visage. Whether the person's reflection was ghastly or healthy presaged the individual's death or recovery from their illness.