Why do we say 'white rabbits' on the 1st of the month?

'White rabbits' is said on 1st day of a new month, we find out why

Boy holding up white rabbit and kissing it in the air
(Image credit: Getty Images)

'Why do we say white rabbits on the first day of the month?' If you've ever wondered where the saying comes from, know that you're not alone.

Saying 'white rabbits' on the first day of the month is a ritual. We love a tradition, just look at the many we follow - from celebrating Christmas and the origins of Valentine's Day to April Fools' Day traditions and giving Easter eggs, among others. 

But there are also superstitions - like Friday 13th being unlucky - and according to tradition, saying 'white rabbits' is meant to give good luck when said on the first day of the month. But there's a catch - it has to be said first thing before anything else, so make sure you pop a note on your morning alarm come December 1st, January 1st, February 1st, and March 1st for a start.

Why do we say white rabbits on the 1st of the month?

We say white rabbits on the 1st of the month because it is supposed to bring good luck for the rest of the month providing the phrase is said first thing in the morning BEFORE anything else.

'White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits' was referenced in an extract taken from the Notes and Queries book in 1909, the book was about folklore, literature and history.

The entry reads, "My two daughters are in the habit of saying ‘Rabbits!’ on the first day of each month. The word must be spoken aloud, and be the first word said in the month. It brings luck for that month. Other children, I find, use the same formula.”

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Anecdotal Reports also claim the term was used by RAF bomber aircrews in WWII, who would say 'white rabbits' when they woke up to protect them from harm.

Eventually, 'white rabbits' became your only means of defence from being pinched and punched back by those who prefer to say "pinch, punch, first day of the month" with the victim saying "white rabbits, no returns" which means they cannot be pinched back.

White rabbits are considered lucky creatures so this became a new way of welcoming the new month.

But rabbits have not always been thought of as lucky. 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.

What month do we say white rabbits?

We say white rabbits on the first day of every month - according to superstition, the saying is supposed to give you good luck when you say it on this day BEFORE midday.

But like with any tradition, it gets lost or changed along the way with some people believing different things.

One confused white rabbit sayer wrote, "But I was told you could only do this when there's an 'r' in the month. So you can't do it in May, June, July or August. I don't know what are the consequences if you don't say it though!"

Another agreed, adding "Yes there has to be an R in the month!"

Meanwhile, another added, "Not heard it said in any other month only for March. Could be wrong though........"

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Three white rabbits meaning?

Some people believe that if they say 'Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit'—three times, just like that—first thing in the morning on the first of the month, even before you say your prayers, you'll get a present before the end of the month.

It is thought that seeing a white rabbit also marks the beginning of a life transformation or a new adventure, which opens your mind to new experiences. It can also symbolise a spiritual awakening.

In other tradition-based news, you might be wondering why is April Fools Day a thing? or what is the Old Wives tale about pregnancy. There are also 18 great first day of school traditions to do with your kids plus these 28 Christmas traditions to try with your family this year.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)