Everywhere around the world, there is some version of the story of a woman in white. Whether she’s a hitchhiking ghost or a mother wandering the land in search of her lost children, the woman in white has become a figure of fear that haunts nightmares the world over. With so many common traits of the woman in white around the world, one has to wonder if perhaps there is an element of truth in all of the legends and perhaps there really is something supernatural going on.
The earliest account of a woman in white dates back to medieval times and as history has progressed, the legend has evolved to fit the mold of contemporary times. Other names for woman in white include ‘The White Lady’, or the ‘banshee’ in Ireland who closely resembles the typical description of the Woman in White. What is it about the ghostly figure of a woman dressed in white that has fascinated us so much? Perhaps the white symbolizes purity and innocence that is shattered by tragic, haunting circumstances.
Ten dominant “Woman in White” legends have graced our cultural history throughout time and around the world. Of course, depending on the country and culture, there will be differences, and no two legends are exactly alike. But even so, with undeniable similarities in these legends, one has to wonder if there’s an element of universal truth to these chilling fairytales. After you read these stories, you’ll likely be thinking twice about picking up any extra hitchhikers… especially the females dressed in white.
10. Czech Republic
The “woman in white” of the Czech Republic haunts the Rozmberk Castle and it’s believed that her name is Perchta. In the 15th century, Perchta was married to Jan of Lichtenštejn, and while they had an unhappy marriage because her father never paid the dowry, Jan sought forgiveness from Perchta on his deathbed. When Perchta refused to give her husband the peace that he wanted, he cursed her soul, forcing her to forever stay attached to his possessions. Not only has she been seen at the Rozmberk Castle, but also Český Krumlov Castle, which Jan also owned.
Mexico probably has one of the most chilling “woman in white” stories of all. You might know her better as “La Llorona” or “the weeping woman”. In life, she was known as Maria and was one of the most beautiful women in her village. She fell in love and married a ranchero, and had two children. Eventually, the ranchero grew tired of Maria and only gave attention to their children, which Maria resented.
After it was discovered that the ranchero was having an affair, Maria took her rage out on her children and drowned them in the river. After realizing what she had done, she went after them. The next morning, her body was found, but no bodies of the children. Legend says that Maria wanders the river at night, dressed in her white gown, crying, “Where are my children?” Kids in Mexico are warned to not go out alone at night, or La Llorona will kidnap them and never return.
Germany’s Woman in White story dates back to the early 1600s and her legend can be aligned with one of two real historical events. The location of sightings is usually the Berliner Schloss, which is the palace for German royalty. The first potential woman that could be the “woman in white” is the Countess Kunigunda of Orlamünde, who murdered her children (who she believed stood in the way of her marriage to Albert of Nuremberg). The woman has also been suggested as being the spirit of Bertha of Rosenberg.
Residing in the Haapsalu Castle is Estonia’s “woman in white”. A story that dates back to the middle ages, this woman in white fell in love with a priest, who reciprocated the feelings. So that the two could be together, she posed as a choirboy and hid in the castle for several years as a secret lover. The two lovers were eventually discovered. The priest was thrown into the dungeon and starved to death, and our woman in white was sentenced to be imprisoned into the walls of the castle, which was still being built at the time. Her cries could be heard within the walls for several days until she eventually died. Legend has it that you can still see her in the church’s windows staring outside and grieving for her lost love.
Malta’s Woman in White is said to live in the Verdala Palace located in the woods of Buskett, Rabat in Malta, which is tucked away in a forest. This particular “woman in white” committed suicide in order to get out of a marriage to a man whom she did not love. After being told by her father that she had to do whatever her soon-to-be husband told her to do, she saw no other way out. She earned the title of the “woman in white” because she can reportedly be seen roaming the palace still in the wedding dress that she wore as she jumped off the balcony on her wedding day.
The White Lady of Balete Drive has been blamed for numerous auto accidents. She is a longhaired woman in a white dress who died in a car accident years earlier. This woman in white is often seen around the rural areas of the Philippines as well as Balete Drive. Often reported by taxi drivers working the graveyard shift, the woman in white will get a ride from the driver, and when they gaze upon her in the rearview mirror, she is bloodied and bruised.
Portugal’s “woman in white” was a fabrication of producer David Rebordão, and created a media sensation over the Internet. In a style very similar to “found footage” (which is a common trend for most horror films today), passengers were filmed picking up a hitchhiker named Teresa who states that she hasn’t been on the road since her accident. When the camera pans over to Teresa, her appearance changes from a lovely woman in white to a bald and bloody woman screaming into the camera. The car crashes, and police reveal a woman named Teresa did die on the road several years earlier. Even though the story is fictional, many believe that it’s based upon a true story.
Our Norwegian woman in white is a victim of lost love. Legend tells the story of a woman who was in love with the commander of the Fredriksten Fortress in Halden, Norway. When the Swedish began to attack the fortress, the commander was killed and his remains were never recovered. In the midst of her grief, the woman in white committed suicide by jumping off the fortress wall. She can be seen in the spring and summer, and witnesses have claimed to see her waving at people from the wall as well as upsetting the electricity supply in the area.
She goes by two different names, “Mulher de Branco” and “Dama Branca”, and legend says that she died either a very violent death or died while giving birth. The origins of this legend potentially date back to the numerous deaths of young women who were killed by their father in a spree of “honor” killings which occurred when it was speculated that the girls committed adultery.
When Brazil’s “woman in white” is seen, she is pale and dressed in a long white gown or a sleeping gown and isn’t able to speak – but the sight of her is said to evoke memories of pain and misfortune.
1. United States
The United States has numerous versions of the “woman in white” legends, with the earliest dating back to the 1700s when a woman drowned in Acra Creek located in New York. Her body was never found and assumed to have floated upstream. In the hundreds of years following the accident, a woman in white has been seen along the creek. Other “woman in white” story concerns a woman hitchhiking – trying to get to her wedding or prom in time – who had in fact died in a car accident on her way to that big event.