White Rabbits!

Why do some people say ‘White Rabbits’ on the first day of the month?

  • Do you say it just the once or repeat it twice or three times?
  • Is the phrase ‘White Rabbits’ or is it just the animal without it’s defining colour?
  • Must it be said first thing in the morning of the first of the month before any other words are uttered?
  • Is there a preferred place to say it – top of the stairs?
  • Do you say it every month or, as has been suggested, only on months with the letter ‘r’ in them?
  • What about February with two letter ‘r’s’…is it doubly lucky or do the two compensate for the lesser number of days?
  • Will saying it at the New Year cover you for the whole year? What if you forget – will saying “tibbar” (rabbit backwards) at bedtime rectify it?

A lot of variables to get just right to ensure good luck for the ensuing month.

So why rabbits…and why white rabbits? One explanation may be related to their ability to jump and metaphorically leap into the future and forward in life. Another may be something to do with their ability to multiply at frightening rates and would be seen as a positive link with fertility and abundance. The keeping of a ‘lucky rabbit’s foot’ is seen as a symbol of good luck and there is even talk of it allegedly warding off arthritis and rheumatism. As to the colour, white is a colour of purity which may link to the notion of luck which you will be if you do manage to see one as unless you are in a pet shop it is rare indeed.

Although it is not all good omens from rabbits. Like a black cat, it is said that a white rabbit running across your path will be followed by bad luck. If you see one running down the street then a fire will occur in a nearby house.

From the outsiders perspective saying ‘white rabbits’ must seem very strange indeed. Whether from folklore tradition or superstition they are deeply ingrained in our daily language and lives. This got me thinking about the differences between our sayings backgrounds – first stop a dictionary. My choice today is Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary:

Superstition – a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, or trust in magic or chance maintained despite evidence to the contrary

Tradition – the handing down of information, beliefs or customs from one generation to another

So is saying ‘white rabbits’ superstition or tradition? To me it is a harmless tradition soaked in superstition – harmless as long as you are not putting all your eggs in one basket and sitting back expecting life to treat you well.

You might not consider yourself superstitious but you might be surprised how many superstitions have seeped into your subconscious – think back to your day…did you say ‘Bless you’ when someone sneezed or use the phrase ‘fingers crossed’…?

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