Why People Start Each Month by Saying “Rabbit, Rabbit”
Plus, what to do if you forget.
So, you've probably heard that some people believe that the most auspicious way to start a new month is by making sure that the first thing they utter on day one is "rabbit, rabbit." Others say, "white rabbit," or repeat the word "rabbit" in a different way, but the intention—a month of good luck—is universal.
Rabbits have been associated with good luck for centuries and are popular symbols of rebirth. The origin of this peculiar verbal practice is unclear, but word historian Martha Barnette told NPR that the practice likely began in the UK, where many people still say "white rabbit" on the first of the month.
"That ensures luck," Barnette explained. "And we don't know why, you know, rabbits have been associated with luck of one sort or another—usually good luck—for more than 2,000 years. But it's only in the early 1900s that we see written references to this superstition."
She said that even Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a believer in the "rabbit, rabbit" ritual.
"He was known to carry a rabbit's foot during the 1932 election. We still have that rabbit's foot in a museum," Barnette said. And supposedly, he also said rabbit, rabbit at the beginning of every month."
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If you forget to say "rabbit, rabbit" as soon as you wake up on the first of the month, fear not. According to Barnette, you can say "black rabbit" right before you go to sleep; or you can say "tibbar, tibbar," which is rabbit backwards.