Origins and History
The exact origin of the superstition is certainly unknown, though it has appeared in print at least as early as 1420 in England, wher the observance itself is said to have originated, though there are some reports place its origins even earlier, into the 1200’s. Today, ithas spread to most English speaking countries of the world, although like all folklore, determining distribution is difficult. This superstitution appears to be related to the broader belief in the rabbit or hare as being a “lucky” animal…. (as exhibited in the dubious? practicve of carrying around a rabbit’s foot for luck… )
Some adherents believe that it represents a jump into the future, and being able to move ahead with one’s life and in moving, make quick steps towards one’s sense of happiness and sense of a fully lived life…
As with most folktales, which has always been spread most rapidly through word of mouth, there are numerous variant versions of this “rabbit, rabbit” superstitution- in some cases, specific to a cetain time period of region. There are hundreds of viariations, some of the most common of which include:
1) White Rabbits On The First of Every Month: In some parts of lancashire and tha djacent counties, it is unwise to shoot a black rabbit. This is because they were once believed to be ancestral spirits that came back in that form. In Somerset, white rabbits were thought to be witches. That anyone really believes this now is improbable; nevertheless, white rabbits are not popular as children’s pets and they are usually left severely alone, and are not shot!
The luck bringing custom found all over Great Britiain is to say ” Rabbits” or “White Rabbits”once or three times on the first day of every month. it must be said early in the morning, before any other word has been uttered, otherwise the charm loses its force.. In some districts, it is considered to be necessary to say “Hares” or “Black Rabbits” when going to bed on the night before, as well as “Rabbits or White Rabbits” in the morning! IF, however, the speaker becomes muddled, and says ” Black Rabbits” on arising, bad luck will follow! The looked for result of all this variously given as general good luck during the ensuing four weeks, or the receipt of a gift within a few days.”
2) the converse is true! saying “Rabbit” ( or even dreamionmg of rabbits?) will bring you bad luck!
3) Being the first one to say to someone, “Rabbit, Rabbit!” will bring you good luck. Once someone has says”rabbit, rabbit” to you, then you are no longer permitted to repeat it to anyone,thus having bad luck for that month.
4) Instead of saying, “rabbit, rabbit” saying just”rabbits, or rabbits, and some will extend this to saying, “rabbits, rabbits, rabbits” which has some of the ealiest historical references.
5) The earliest referenced usuage may be to saying “rabbits” three times before going to sleep the last night of the month, then saying “hares” three times upon awakening, though just two years later, it was recorded as three “rabbits” in the morning, and no hares at all!
6) Using the night of the New Moon (traditionally the first day of the lunar month) instead of the first night of the calendar month.
7) Another version is to say “bunny,bunny hop, hop”
8) Saying “black rabbits?” the night before, and “white rabbits?” in the morning in a questioning way…
9) Believing that the effect will be stronger if done during the month of one’s birth.
10) Referring to the first of every month as “Rabbit Day”
11) There are various ways to counter the effect of forgetting to say the “rabbit” word, so that you can counteract the promise of regular or bad luck during the month… Thye first is to say it backwards, “tibbar, tibbar” before you fall asleep or some accounts will offer the rememy of saying, “Moose, Moose” upon waking up on the second day of the month!
12) A different but related practice of saying “Happy Rabbits Day” to someone in order to bring them good luck.
I would add that while the rabbit may or may not have luck ascribed to its name, it certainly is a symbol of vitality, fertility, energy, and resourcefulnesss- all things that can make any month a more favorittable experience… Besides, it is a delightful excuse to contact dear friends, right?)