White Rabbits

What was the first thing you said this morning?  Husband uttered just two words, “White rabbits,” and I immediately responded with, ” White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits.” As instructed by my mother, as long ago as I can remember, these are the first words out of my mouth on the first day of each month (except for those months when I annoyingly forget and say something like, “Why are you getting up so early” usually followed by, “Oh no, I forgot about white rabbits”)!

Others of you might have said it just once as my husband does, or perhaps you only said, “Rabbit,” with no reference to the colour of their fur.  The point of this odd little ritual, whatever the chosen version, is to ensure good luck during the coming month. According to The Yorkshire Post, it should only be said on the first of a month with an R in it. Hard luck if you’re in need of a bit of good fortune through the summer then!

Elderly white rabbit, Foggy, 8 years old, and his young son, 9 weeks old

No-one really knows where the connection of rabbits to luck came from but it’s been suggested that the superstition dates to the 1400s and comes from a ritual in which farmers engaged, perhaps because rabbits have long been a symbol of prosperity and wealth due to the speed with which they multiply.   Rumour has it that President Roosevelt was a great believer in the power of the white rabbit made a point of remembering each month. And during WWII it was apparently quite common for RAF bomber crews to say, “White rabbits” on waking, hopeful of ensuring protection. The statistics would suggest that it didn’t do a lot for them, and for my own part  I’ve never actually monitored compliance versus outcome  – did I, for example, remember to say it on 1st April – the month in which I broke my foot?

Some prefer to say (with accompanying actions), “Pinch punch, first of the month”, and still others add this. “white rabbits, no return” in order to avoid a return pinch. Who knew it could be so involved.

It’s quite possible that you don’t have a clue what I’m on about! As a mature student a few years ago,  I happened to say something about this to a group of around a dozen young people, and only one thought she might have heard of it!  Others were familiar with pinching and punching but no-one mentioned it in connection with rabbits.

Despite a deep-down belief that the likelihood of said (non existent) rabbits having even the remotest effect on anything is a ludicrous notion, but will I abandon trying to remember to utter the words? Not a chance!

8 comments

  1. We always said “White Rabbits” on the first of the month regardless of the month. No one seemed to know of this when we moved to Devon, it was “pinch, punch, 1st of the month” with the pinch and the punch to match of course. When he was little, our elder son couldn’t understand why we said this (not that we knew anyway!) so to be different he’d say “Pink bunnies!”
    Margaret P

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    • I am always interested in regional variation. I grew up assuming that everyone said ‘white rabbits’, though why we said it three times I have no idea. Pink bunnies sounds fine to me!

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  2. I’ve only recently heard of the white rabbits saying.
    I will not write the first words out of my mouth this morning. Suffice to say I needed to get up early and the alarm clock startled me. X

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  3. Thank you for explaining that, Eloise, because I’ve read one other blog where the writer would write, “rabbit, rabbit” every now and then, and it seemed very random to me! I didn’t know why and I didn’t ask. But, now I wonder if she wrote it on the first of the month?! I don’t remember saying anything about rabbits on the first of the month, when growing up, and they don’t say that here, in the U.S., as far as I know. However, some people consider the foot of a rabbit to be a good luck charm!

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    • Ah, I think this is something different. ‘Rabbit, rabbit’ is used when someone is wittering/ talking non-stop. We might describe someone who is a chatterbox as ‘always rabbiting’. Perhaps the writer was aware that she was a bit of a ‘rabbiter!’ We do have some strange expressions!

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  4. You always have to do as your mother tells you so this is why we don’t walk under ladders or let a black cat cross your path and all those other sayings they so readily spoke of leaving us none the wiser but still we continue to say them. Ears that shouldn’t be listening was another of her favourites when you were about to talk about something that was supposed to be hush hush and I find this is probably the one saying I use on constant regularity.

    Mitzi

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    • I used to refer to my daughter as having flappy ears (when she was young) because she always picked up on snippets of conversations that she should not have done!

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