The Scariest American Folktale I Ever Heard

yellow-ribbion-around-neck Whether it be campfire tales, ghost stories, or just superstitions shared by your grandparents, I believe all of us have experienced the bone-chilling fear of hearing a tale that scared us to the core.

Mine, strangely enough, was an elementary school assignment.  This is an American folktale not many have heard of, so in true folktale manner, I will relate the story in my own words.  If you have family near, read aloud, or print this and take it with you on your camping trip.

The Yellow Ribbon

Once upon a time there was a man who dreamed of meeting his perfect mate and prayed to the heavens she would cure his broken heart. One day, he met such a woman. From her radiant skin, to her crimson hair, to the yellow ribbon she wore around her neck, she was perfection personified. She seemed to adore him just as much as he did her. He sometimes would ask her why she wore the yellow ribbon around her neck and she would always change the subject. He decided he did not care, if she liked the yellow ribbon, she could wear it for the rest of their lives, it did not bother him.

When he asked for her hand in marriage, he did it in the most romantic way he knew how.  He drove her up to lover’s lane, held her hand, and as they stargazed, he asked her to marry him. She said, “I will marry you on one condition. Never ask me again about the yellow ribbon.” This seemed like a simple request to him and they set a date.

However, as the wedding drew near, he began to wonder why she would not take the ribbon off, even on her wedding day. Perhaps she loved the ribbon more than him! Though he did not ask her about the ribbon, the subject began to infect their relationship. He thought about it day and night. He began to hate to look at her because the ribbon seemed to be on her neck precisely to mock him.

On their wedding day, as the priest said, “You may kiss the bride.” The man saw his chance. As his wife closed her eyes and puckered her lips, waiting for the heavenly kiss from the man she adored, he pulled the ribbon end. His new wife’s head fell off and rolled down the street. The End.

According to, this was a tale originally from Wisconsin. Read the tale of The Yellow Ribbon and many more American folk tales at: and celebrate this Independence Day Weekend by telling a spooky folk tale of your own.