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.
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
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
Now I was engaged in finding more:
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
Roosevelt, no less, admitted to observing the custom and would not dream of not
The following extension
to the superstition seems a little foolhardy to me:
"...it 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!