Thursday 1 December 2022

White rabbits

White rabbits

I was reading something by David Sedaris last night and he mentioned that someone had told him that saying ‘white rabbits’ on waking on the first day of the month would ensure good luck throughout the ensuing period. I have known this superstition for years and always try to remember to say it (though, of course, I am not in the least superstitious!) but I didn’t know where it originated or that it was universal.

Actually, on looking it up, Wikipedia informed me:

"Rabbit rabbit rabbit" is a superstition found in Britain and North America wherein a person says or repeats the words "rabbit", "rabbits" and/or "white rabbits" aloud upon waking on the first day of a month, to ensure good luck for the rest of it.

Then I investigated a little further and found this:

Apparently it was a common belief among RAF bomber aircrew during WW2 that saying "white rabbits" the very first thing upon waking would protect oneself.

Another source claimed:

During World War II, British fighter pilots were known to say “white rabbits” for luck every day—not just the first day of the month. Other variations of this superstition include saying “rabbit” three times in a row rather than just two.

Now I was engaged in finding more:

In the United States the tradition appears especially well known in northern New England although, like all folklore, determining its exact area of distribution is difficult. The superstition may be related to the broader belief in the rabbit or hare being a "lucky" animal, as exhibited in the practice of carrying a rabbit's foot for luck. Rabbits have not always been thought of as lucky, however. In the 19th century, for example, fishermen would not say the word while at sea; in South Devon, to see a white rabbit in one's village when a person was very ill was regarded as a sure sign that the person was about to die.

President Roosevelt, no less, admitted to observing the custom and would not dream of not doing so.

The following extension to the superstition seems a little foolhardy to me:

" must be 'White Rabbit' ... but you must also say 'Brown Rabbit' at night and walk downstairs backwards." Reported in a small survey that took place in Exeter, Devon in 1972.

However, I have added my own idiosyncrasy to the procedure: I have to say ‘Grey hares, grey hares, grey hares’ on the last night of the month before I go to sleep. It’s tragic, really . . .

 I bet you’re all longing for January 1st now, so that you can respect the tradition and guarantee your portion of good fortune!






  1. Hi Janice - I always remember it - but cannot exactly say what's what ... do you by chance know which of the two President Roosevelt's ...? We've got a speaker coming to talk about Theodore Roosevelt in January ... and you've given me an entre for the talk! I also haven't made a plan for saying white rabbits since I was a teenager. Cheers Hilary

    1. It was President Frank D. Roosevelt and apparently he always carried a rabbit's foot in his pocket. Hope your speaker is entertaining.

  2. Well that explains why I've never had much luck!

  3. I keep forgetting, so I'm in the same boat as you!


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