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!
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!