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

White rabbit in snow
(Image credit: Getty)

'Why do we say white rabbits on the first day of the month?' If you've wondered why we say this, 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 (opens in new tab) to April Fools' day traditions (opens in new tab)and giving Easter eggs (opens in new tab), among others. 

But there also superstitions - like Friday 13th being unlucky (opens in new tab) - and according to tradition, saying 'white rabbits' is meant to give good luck when said on the first day of the month - the 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 folkore, 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.

And eventually, 'white rabbits' became your only means of defence from being pinched and punched back from 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.

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Selina Maycock
Senior Entertainment Writer

Selina is a Senior Entertainment Writer with more than 14 years of experience in newspapers and magazines. She currently looks after all things Entertainment for Goodto.com, Woman&Home, and My Imperfect Life. Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand. When she's not interviewing celebrities you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories.