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Why do we say ‘white rabbits’ on the first of the month?

It is tradition to say “white rabbits” on the first of the month (Gustavo Zambelli/Unsplash)
It is tradition to say “white rabbits” on the first of the month (Gustavo Zambelli/Unsplash)

May has begun, and many are greeting others with a traditional “white rabbits” - a phrase that is said on the first day of every month.

Some will be making sure to say white rabbits before midday while, for others, the phrase will be the very first thing they say this morning.

It has been a tradition for years, and people often take to social media to share the lucky phrase, with “white rabbits” trending on Twitter.

The idea is that saying “white rabbits” on the first of the month will bring you luck, but where did the tradition come from?

Why do we say white rabbits on the first of the month?

The exact origin of the white rabbits tradition is unclear, but some theories are circulating online.

One theory comes from the 1909 book Notes and Queries, which said that children had a habit of making sure “rabbits” was the first word they said aloud on the first day of the month, with the hope that it would bring them luck.

This is thought to be the earliest reference to “white rabbits”.

Another theory is that, during World War II, the RAF bomber crew would say “white rabbits” as soon as they woke up to protect themselves.

But why rabbits? Superstitiously, rabbits, particularly their feet, are considered to be lucky. But again, the origin of the superstition is unclear.

Some say rabbits are lucky because of their fertility, and that they represent spring and renewal.

What else do people say on the first of the month?

As well as “white rabbits”, you may also hear people say “a pinch and a punch, first of the month”, often accompanied by a playful pinch and a punch on the arm.

One theory about the pinch and a punch phrase suggests it comes from Medieval times, when people believed in witches, and thought that salt made them weak. It is thought that they would pinch salt and then punch the witch to banish her.

Another theory says that US President George Washington would meet with local Native American tribes on the first of the month, and would bring them fruit punch with a pinch of salt.

However, none of these theories have been proven, and nobody really knows why we say “white rabbits” or “pinch, punch” on the first of the month.