Wisconsin folklore

Yellow Ribbon

Spooky WisconsinA Spooky Wisconsin Story

retold by S.E. Schlosser 

Jane wore a yellow ribbon around her neck everyday. And I mean everyday, rain or shine, whether it matched her outfit or not. It annoyed her best friend Johnny after awhile. He was her next door neighbor and had known Jane since she was three. When he was young, he had barely noticed the yellow ribbon, but now they were in high school together, it bothered him.

“Why do you wear that yellow ribbon around your neck, Jane?” he’d ask her every day. But she wouldn’t tell him.

Still, in spite of this aggravation, Johnny thought she was cute. He asked her to the soda shoppe for an ice cream sundae. Then he asked her to watch him play in the football game. Then he started seeing her home. And come the spring, he asked her to the dance. Jane always said yes when he asked her out. And she always wore a yellow dress to match the ribbon around her neck.

It finally occurred to Johnny that he and Jane were going steady, and he still didn’t know why she wore the yellow ribbon around her neck. So he asked her about it yet again, and yet again she did not tell him. “Maybe someday I’ll tell you about it,” she’d reply. Someday! That answer annoyed Johnny, but he shrugged it off, because Jane was so cute and fun to be with.

Well, time flew past, as it has a habit of doing, and one day Johnny proposed to Jane and was accepted. They planned a big wedding, and Jane hinted that she might tell him about the yellow ribbon around her neck on their wedding day. But somehow, what with the preparations and his beautiful bride, and the lovely reception, Johnny never got around to asking Jane about it. And when he did remember, she got a bit teary-eyed, and said: “We are so happy together, what difference does it make?” And Johnny decided she was right.

Johnny and Jane raised a family of four, with the usual ups and downs, laughter and tears. When their golden anniversary rolled around, Johnny once again asked Jane about the yellow ribbon around her neck. It was the first time he’d brought it up since the week after their wedding. Whenever their children asked him about it, he’d always hushed them, and somehow none of the kids had dared ask their mother. Jane gave Johnny as sad look and said: “Johnny, you’ve waited this long. You can wait awhile longer.”

And Johnny agreed. It was not until Jane was on her death bed a year later that Johnny, seeing his last chance slip away, asked Jane one final time about the yellow ribbon she wore around her neck. She shook her head a bit at his persistence, and then said with a sad smile: “Okay Johnny, you can go ahead and untie it.”

With shaking hands, Johnny fumbled for the knot and untied the yellow ribbon around his wife’s neck.

And Jane’s head fell off.


Read more Wisconsin ghost stories in Spooky Wisconsin by S.E. Schlosser.


oh wow, that was unexpected

I know a story exacly like that, except the ribbon is green.

i loved all the stories on this website!!! i shared them at a sleep over and al the girls loved them and i told my little sister the tung twisters and the native american stories and the little tall tails and children stories and my teeacher loves native americans and she was so pleased that she reads them out loud!!!

that was cool.

I know a story just like this too!

'tis unexpected,it was

(Yoda impression)

so how did her head get cut off?

hmm well umm ok

I know the same story
exept it was called the red bandanna

thet was great

really weird but not that scary



wow. well, at least she was already dying when he pulled it off!

I know the same story but it was a longer story about the same thing except this time the ribbon was red not yellow

wow i heard the same storie but the ribbon was red and how did the head fall down that is cool

"I like that her head fell off" -Justin

"It got suspensful toward the end." -Aiyanna

"I didn't like it, but I read it twice." -Arnim

""When he kept asking her about the yellow ribbon, I thought it was annoying to keep reading" -Cristina

she was on her death bed... johnny took the ribbon off... her hed fell off WTF!?!?!?!? SICK STORY MATE :):)

dumb dumb dumb dumb DUMB!

Oh wow! I expected that!!! Lol i guessed it hahahaahaahahahahaahhahahahahahaaa and her head was attached by tht ribbon. =]

I thought she was gonna have some type of bite that was infected wow was i way off

woww ummm shuldnt of untied the ribbon

Ah, I know this story, but it was with a green ribbon in stead of a yellow one

my teacher told us this story in 3rd grade....i luv how it just goes straight to "and janes head fell off" hahaha luv it

Lol i know a story like that but its a Girl with a scarf.


HA! that is HILARIUS! it was so unexpected it made me jump! 11/10!!!


i know that story but she has a red ribbon.

wow wow wow! very unexpected

i read it twice, i think its sad when his wife died.-kaytlin

ok ,ok

Damn Scary storie... I honestly did not expect the ending.... wow

Good story.....

not so scary!!!!!!!

I know a story like this, but the ribbon is green

I read this when I was in third grade but the ribbon wasnt yellow it was green

I know THREE storys just like that except they had a green,a red, and a blue ribbon!!!

!? so wtf he killed her by taking off the scarf or like she was living dead and he pulled it off!

I have to tell this to someone I loved it so much!!

I read another version of this. It is called 'The Black Ribbon'. The husband was too curious and undid the ribbon.

I am 12 and I have read a book just like this but had different stories too. It was call The Dark Dark Room.

wow sucky story if ur not even gonna tell how her head got cut off

WOW! What the HECK just happened! How is a ribbon supposed to keep your head on!!! Cool story!!! Poor Johnny!!!

I know this story except it's a tiny bit different

I wonder whether she felt comfortable wearing the ribbon throughout her life.WELL,I enjoyed reading the story.

awsome dude

I Always Want To ear tHat Story Again I Heard It When I 5 And Now I Am 13

loved it my freind told me that but u told it bttr

wow that is not scary

ive known this girl since kindergarden and she has always weared this one ring I wonder if her finger will fall off


a little bit scared,its too weird and cool

Wowie i heard this before, man it still send chill down my back:P but why didnt she just say that was the reason then he wouldnt ask?! duh....

i lve this story:D

that was stupid lol

How could she live if her head wasnt even on? WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THAT WAS REALLY STUPID LOL:)

How can she survive?

My cousin and I heard this story when we were little and it terrified us! It's funny to look back and see what scared us so long ago.

dude, that would suck epically

iv read 5 of the same stories only slightly different.best was white string

What The hell first of all he doesnt untie and second it was suppose to be a green ribbon but all in all it was a pretty good story it had more detail

I thought it was funny . But I was just wondering how did it come to be that her head fell off ? Johnny was far too curious for his own good . All in all i know it is a brilliant story .

This story was good and scary. I did not expect the ending to go the way it did.

Awesome cool

I was wondering what was going to happen.YUCK!

I read something like that before. Really awesome I most say.

Wow, that was, wow....can you be a bit more realistic next time and a bit less dramatic???!!!!:(

i like dis story but the only difference about dis one its dat the other story like dis the ribbon was green!!!!! omg!!!


i have read a story like this before but the ribbon was red.. so i kinda knew what to expect.. but was she already dead or what?? lol thats just crazy

This is a childhood story of mine..only i remember the ribbon being green :) Still great even today!

HOLY CRAP!That must have been very disgusting,and disturbing.

i know a story just like this one except the ribbon was black and had no end, the husband cut it off and the wife's head fell off and it was still smiling and looking at him

OMG, that's where i live! Wonder if i live near Jane's house?

My little cousin, she's 3, she told me the EXACT same story, but the ribbon was green and she was a child the whole story and a mean boy came up behind her and grabbed it off.

You know this is someone else's story? And I thought the ribbon was red or something.


i thought the ribbon would be like covering up like a huge cut from her cuttin herself- anywayy it was pretty good :)

I know a story like this and she was really dead and when she got something she told him to take it off

My cousin told me a story like this a few years ago except it was a lot shorter and the ribbon was either black or blue (sometimes she would say black and sometimes she would say blue). this is almost the exact same except more detailed.

wow! that was a cool story. it was funny when it just skips to "and janes head fell off" wow i read it twice i loved it

I didnt really like it it didnt even say how her head was cut in the first place WTF!!!

I thought he was gonna get curious and take it of in the middle of the night.

MAAAANNN!!!!!! I've heard this story b4 so i knew wat was gonna happen!!!

i thought the ribin was green

does it really matter what collor the ribbon was?...I mean her head was attached to her body by a ribbon and somehow the colour is that what matteres?

Sooo was it a curse that she had to put up with when she was really young or she was born with it or....................??

Just curious.

i would love to see a film of this

I've read a story like this one but it was a little bit diffrent. The ribbon was red and the story was longer.

The story i know its a red ribbion and he pulled it off when she was sleeping as her head hits the floor her head says,'I told you not to untie my ribbion"

I know this story but with a green noot a yellow lol

you ALL shouldn't post rude comments just because you don't like this story. It was a nice story but not so scary. You people shouldn't be rude. Didn't your parents teach you all ANYTHING?

I remember reading this story in an old Halloween book in my elementary school. The pictures freaked me out more than the story!

i loved it< it@s so sad at he end :)

whoa, NOT funny.........i LOVE TI!!! <3333

OMG so scary why did her head fall OFF ??????????

i remember a story like that from when i was little but the ribbon was green and the end happened on their wedding day

classic! love this one!

man! that blew my head of!

I haerd his one b-4.I live in wisco,so kinda cool.but haha,i like the suspense..not scary though...poor jonny


yea i read that in a book she had a green ribbon

this is hillarious! LOL!!!

They would always read this story to us during Halloween in elementary school. I was really freaked out by it. Good times, haha.

i read a story just like that except the ribbon was red, and at the end of the story there was a short author's note that said Hungarian folklore stated that people with red ribbons on their necks mean that they are actually spirits whose heads were chopped off (decapitated) during some war...

to all people who said jane's head was cut it didnt!! when johnny pulled the ribbon jane's head fell of becuz the ribbon was holding jane's head together!

I know this story! I was told it at primary school!

What's scary is some of these comments. You're missing the point. This story is a campfire story. It's like an urban legend or a fairy tale. It's been around for ages. It's retold time and time again with slight variations but the basic plot is still the same--nosy husband unties ribbon and wife's head falls off. It's a cautionary tale with a curiosity-killed-the-cat (or the cat's wife) kind of theme. It doesn't matter what color the ribbon is or why the wife's head wasn't firmly attached in the first place. Just like it doesn't matter why the killer has a hook instead of a hand or who killed the boyfriend and hung him upside down or why Little Red Riding Hood's cloak is red. And if you don't think the story is scary posted on a website, try listening to it as told by a good storyteller around a campfire in the middle of the woods on a chilly autumn night.


i thought the ribbon was supposed 2 b green?????????

Wow, at least she was dying! LOL I kinda knew what was going to happen at the end. But... They had 4 KIDS TOGETHER?!?!?! That's kinda sick, since she was, well... Dead... :P

i jmped out of my seat

it was scary


this was a really funny story!!!! hahahahaa!!

Always gets me!

Once I was in a bookstore and I saw a book that said Scary Stories and I took it and that story was just like this one, only that the ribon was GREEN. (:

was that yellow ribbon some sort of magical ribbon which would keep her head from falling?

was that yellow ribbon some sort of magical ribbon which would keep her head from falling?

so techniqually; he killed hur.


now when ever i think of a ribbon i will think of that cool story


my favorite scary story as a child!!!

I heard kind of the same story but the ribbon was black velvet one.

i know a story like that too only the ribbon is green

I've heard the exact same story except it was a red ribbon.

Scary i mean like her head fell off imean so werid

How'd her head get cut of

that was weird but ok

I've read something like this, but the ribbon was black. And he cut it off without her knowing and she kept talking after her head fell off.

ummmm what? im really confused. jane was dead already??? she was a zombie?how was she on her death bed if she was a zombie????? she was dead when she was 3??? how did her head get cut of? how was it staying in place with a ribbon??? what about her parents?? did they know she was dead??? how was she still alive with her head disconeccted from her body??? i will never know. pleaz answer me questions.

I remember this story when I was in elementary school. I do believe the scarf was green. I told the same story to my two little nieces last year (10,8). Both of them in shock when the story was over.

that was such a nice story an then o off popped her head it was just like wow how was she alive :p

She wasn't dead till the end.

Wow tht ending was totaly unexpected!!! I bet the husband felt horrible after tht!!! And btw how did a little string keep her head on??? And why did her head fall off anyway??

I was told this when i was younger :')
Ot's not the whole story though. The reason she wore the ribbon was because when she was younger, there was a river or something by her home and her mother always told her to not play by it cos it was dangerous and had sharp rocks.
One day when her mum was busy, Jane went to the river with a paper boat and it went out of her reach in the river. She tried to get it but fell in and was decapitated by the rocks. then the story continued..
I was never told how she managed to put her head back on though O_O

OH MY GOD! my sister used to tell me and my brother this story when we were little, i always though it was her who made it up!!!

Why would herhead fall off??? I understand the ribbon kept it on though

it was an awesome story.. i loved every bit of it.. keep up the good work.. XOXO..

i did not think it was that scary but i loved the story.


I remember my mom reading this story to me when I was a kid. I always remembered it, my entire life. It may not seem scary by today's standards - but even to a child, it's terrifying!
Have an imagination ;)

I love that story

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Schlosser, author of the Spooky Series

About the Author: S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series by Globe Pequot Press, as well as the Ghost Stories deck by Random House.  She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of "let's pretend" quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children's Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author. Read more

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