Do you remember to say “white rabbits” or “rabbits rabbits rabbits” first thing on the first of every month?
I don’t, usually, but it’s a fun bit of folklore. I enjoy it on the occasions I do remember.
But where did this practice come from, and how did it spread?
Nobody really knows where it started, but it was common enough (chiefly among children) to warrant writing down in 1909. There also doesn’t appear to be a definitive phrase– “rabbit rabbit,” “rabbits rabbits rabbits,” “white rabbits, white rabbits,” and other permutations of colors and lagomorphs all show up periodically. They’re all supposed to bring you luck for the rest of the month, provided they’re the first thing you say upon waking. According to some accounts, they’re supposed to ensure that you’ll receive an unexpected gift before the month’s end.
One thing that is certain is that it seemed to be a predominantly New England thing at one point in time. I watched a lot of Nickelodeon as a kid, so I still remember being reminded to say the words by Stick Stickly during “Rabbit Rabbit Day.” Of course, my tiny brain was usually buzzing with too many things to remember to actually say it when I woke up!
Why rabbits? That, unfortunately, is also hard to say. It might be part childhood silliness, it might also be part rabbit’s position in folklore. Stories from all over the world describe rabbit as a clever trickster character, akin to Raven, Coyote, or Anansi the Spider. Could saying “rabbits rabbits rabbits” on the first of the month allow you to tap into some of Rabbit’s luck and cleverness? Rabbits have also been associated with luck and prosperity, likely due to their ability to multiply quickly. What is a little baffling is why there aren’t earlier references to the practice of saying “rabbits rabbits rabbits” on the first of the month.
Why the first of the month? It could be purely in the hope that you’ll be lucky the whole month through. It may also be because of their association with the moon– not only does a rabbit’s reproductive cycle lasts between 28-31 days, as crepuscular animals they are most active at dawn and dusk.
Here’s wishing you good luck for the month of November!