The Two Words to Say on the First of the Month for Good Luck: Rabbit, Rabbit

Photo: Getty Images/Olarty
When I was growing up, I had a brown rabbit that I (very creatively) named Brownie. One day, while my sister and I were sitting on the front lawn holding Brownie against his will, a neighbor passed by and asked us if we'd said "rabbit, rabbit" when we woke up that morning. We both looked extremely puzzled, until he explained that repeating the phrase on the first of every month was the equivalent of a verbal lucky charm.

Now, as an adult who still religiously states the phrase on every first of the year, I'm still wondering—why rabbits? What about Thumper ensures 28 to 31 days of fortuitousness? A quick Google reveals that the root of the custom remains unknown. The first written record of saying rabbit, rabbit occurred in 1909, according to Refinery 29In a periodical called Notes and Queries, the author writes, "My two daughters are in the habit of saying 'Rabbits!' on the first day of each month. The words must be spoke aloud, and be the first word said in the month...Other children, I find, use the same formula."

Martha Barnette, who hosts the public radio show A Way With Words, tells NPR that associating the long-eared mammals with good fortune dates back at least two centuries. "In the U.K., it's quite common to say 'white rabbits,'" she says. "Gilda Radner [an American comedian] was someone who was known to say 'bunny, bunny' on the first day of the month; to ensure, as she put it, laughter, love and peace." And not only did President Franklin Delano Roosevelt supposedly begin each month with the mantra, he took the superstition a step further by carrying a rabbit's foot during the 1932 election (which, BTW, he won—in case your American history is rusty).

While (alas!) we'll never know the true origin story of twice-repeating the name of one of the animal kingdom's cuddliest creatures, I'd say setting an alarm each month to remind you to complete the ritual is pretty low stakes. I'll take all the luck I can get. Just please, for the love of Brownie (may he R.I.P.), don't purchase Peter Cottontail's left paw to stash in your purse.

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