Friday, June 1, 2018

Why do we say “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” on the 1st of each month?

"Even Mr. Roosevelt, the President of the United States, has confessed to a friend that he says 'Rabbits' on the first of every month—and, what is more, he would not think of omitting the utterance on any account." – Newspaper article, The Nottingham Evening Post, 27 November, 1935.

I always say “Rabbit” three times on the first day of the month.  I try to make it the first thing I say that morning.  It goes back to my childhood. When I was a little girl, I never knew what the day of the month it was until I got to school.  But on the first of the month it would be a contest to see who would remember first.  Usually some other kid would shout it out while walking to school, and we’d all repeat it to the next kid we saw. And so it would travel through the neighborhood.

Now I post it every month on Facebook. If you are a Facebook friend, you know I also put up a picture of a rabbit, too.  Or three rabbits. I didn’t know why we say it three times. I didn’t know why we say it in the first place.  Finally, fellow genealogist Dan Young asked me, “Do you have a blog post on the history of why we say Rabbit?”

So here it is- the reason why we say “Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit”!

It turns out to be a British custom that was carried to North America.  Over there people say “Rabbits” or “White Rabbits” or repeat “Rabbit” some number of times for good luck in the new month.  According to Wikipedia, northern New England is where this custom is most prevalent in the USA.  In Britain, It is more common in Scotland than in England.

Rabbits are considered lucky in the British Isles- think of the lucky rabbit’s foot. Rabbits are a tradition sign of fertility (remember the Playboy symbol?). White rabbits are especially lucky or magical, and we all know this from the color of most magician’s rabbits. One of the articles I linked below said that FDR not only said Rabbits on the first of the month, but he carried a rabbit’s foot in his pocket for good luck.  Maybe he was just super superstitious?

What is the symbolism of the “Three Hares” often seen carved on churches in England or medieval manuscripts? Well, according to Wikipedia again, it is also seen all over Europe and the Middle East. Is it a symbol of the trinity?  Is it from the pagan Celts? This symbol appears to be a puzzle, just like the fact that although each of the three rabbits appears to have two ears, there are only a total of three ears.  Check out the website for the Three Hare Project, which has published a new book on this subject:

The Three Hares: A Curiosity Worth Regarding, by Tom Greeves, Sue Andrew and Chris Chapman, Skerryvore Productions,UK, 2016

Variations on this theme:

Be the first to say “Rabbit” for good luck
It must be the first words spoken aloud that morning
If you repeat the word “Rabbit” the rabbit will run away with your problems
If you forget to say rabbit first thing, reverse your bad luck by saying “Tibbar” before bed.
Drink a Rabbit Rabbit beer from New England’s Lamplighter Brewing Co. (Cambridge, MA)
Buy a dress from the fashion company Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit  Designs (Google it!)
Gilda Radner used the “Bunny Bunny” version every month

For the truly curious:

From NPR’s “A Way with Words”

Mother Nature - 

Bangor, Maine Bangor Daily News

Rabbit Rabbit Day on Facebook -  

The Three Hares from Wikipedia- 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Why do we say “Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit” on the 1st of each month?", Nutfield Genealogy, posted June 1, 2018, ( accessed [access date]). 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for reminding me why. And rabbit, rabbit, rabbit for luck to you and yours.