The History Behind “Rabbit…Rabbit!”

Dear Reader:

A wonderful friend from church, Susan Johnson, emailed me yesterday morning and said she had read a Southern Living Magazine article on the history of the superstition behind saying “Rabbit, Rabbit” on the first day of each month. (I had to laugh when she added that anything in Southern Living was “the gospel” for women…no “fake news” there! 🙂 *I completely agree!!!

For this old history teacher…I loved the connection between our blog post reminder each month and the story behind the superstition. *On a personal note, however, I remembered that it was Brooke who taught me this good luck trick the first time the first month rolled around back in 1967.

She reminded me not to forget to say “rabbit” the next morning for good luck during that October. We did this ritual for the next four years at Erskine and then continued the tradition when we roomed together in Charleston, after college, during our first two years teaching.

I called Brooke, yesterday, to ask her how she had originally heard about the “rabbit” tradition and she said it came from two hometown girls, Ann and Ellen, who were a year older than herself and her best pal, Lou. Since they were older they took it upon themselves to “educate” Brooke and Lou on all the superstitions needed for getting around in daily life.

She remembered another superstition was that they had to always enter the school building with their left foot first, over the threshold, for good luck at school that day. Brooke said she about tripped some day following Ann and Ellen…it definitely added just one more stress point to think about on the way to school.

Brooke and I would write notes on the mirror or scrawl “rabbit” with lipstick the night of the last day of the month. We wanted to make sure we didn’t forget. We took it very seriously!

Actually, looking back on it, I had heard about it earlier (but forgotten until Brooke started it up again) in one of my Trixie Belden mystery books…The Mystery of the Emeralds. 

Chapter 1 of the Trixie Belden story The Mystery of the Emeralds (1962) is titled “Rabbit! Rabbit!” and discusses the tradition:

 

 

Trixie Belden awoke slowly, with the sound of a summer rain beating against her window. She half-opened her eyes, stretched her arms above her head, and then, catching sight of a large sign tied to the foot of her bed, yelled out, “Rabbit! Rabbit!” She bounced out of bed and ran out of her room and down the hall. “I’ve finally done it!” she cried […] “Well, ever since I was Bobby’s age I’ve been trying to remember to say ‘Rabbit! Rabbit!’ and make a wish just before going to sleep on the last night of the month. If you say it again in the morning, before you’ve said another word, your wish comes true.” Trixie laughed.”

Here are some excerpts and historical tidbits from the July, 2019 Southern Living article: “Why People Start Each Month by Saying “Rabbit, Rabbit” (author Meghan Overdeep)

“From the haint blue on our porches (*love my blue porch ceiling) to the bourbon we bury at weddings, Southerners are no stranger to superstitions. Do we understand half of them? No… but that doesn’t mean we love them any less.”  

“So, you’ve probably heard that some people believe that the most auspicious way to start a new month is by making sure that the first thing they utter on day one is “rabbit, rabbit.” Others say, “white rabbit,” or repeat the word “rabbit” in a different way, but the intention—a month of good luck—is universal.”

… even Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a believer in the “rabbit, rabbit” ritual.

“He was known to carry a rabbit’s foot during the 1932 election and it is still found in a museum today. Supposedly, he also said rabbit, rabbit at the beginning of every month.”

Now…have you ever wondered what you can do if you mess up and forget to say “rabbit” first thing on the first day of the month? Have no fear…you have two options…according to one tradition.

*If you forget to say “rabbit, rabbit” as soon as you wake up on the first of the month, fear not. According to Barnette ( a researcher on the subject) you can say “black rabbit” right before you go to sleep that night; or you can say “tibbar, tibbar,” which is rabbit backwards. 🙂

Everyone now has a head start on remembering to say “Rabbit, Rabbit” for September ….which, by the way, arrives this Sunday!

So until tomorrow…”Let the human mind loose… it must be loose” (John Adams) whether for further study of what is…or joviality for what can be in the imagination.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Jake was beyond himself with excitement yesterday morning for his first day of ‘big boy’ school at James B. Edwards. It seems that everything went quite well…but he was totally drained when he got home…(Mandy told me)…a lot of excitement for one little boy.

His favorite part of the day was listening to a story called The Kissing Hand. 

School is starting in the forest, but Chester Raccoon does not want to go. To help ease Chester’s fears, Mrs. Raccoon shares a family secret called the Kissing Hand to give him the reassurance of her love any time his world feels a little scary.

* Each child got a Hershey’s “kiss” at the end of the story…quite a sweet ending…*probably why Jake liked it so much:)

Taken at school yesterday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Oh What a Beautiful Morning” it was yesterday morning!

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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6 Responses to The History Behind “Rabbit…Rabbit!”

  1. bcparkison says:

    Rabbit,Rabbit was something I was kinda slow catching on to and still forget sometimes.

    Like

  2. Beth says:

    My 4th grade teacher at Summerville Elementary, Mrs. Dansby, told her students about that good luck tidbit. She taught us to say Rabbit’s foot on the 1st of each month. Since she was one of my favorite teachers, I took that as gospel truth and have tried hard to remember each month for the last 57 years!!! Perhaps this is one of the many reasons I have had such wonderful blessings in my life!! Have a great September 😊

    Like

    • Becky Dingle says:

      How sweet Beth!!! And to remember a teacher for this “tradition”…but Beth, you are the blessing darling to so many people’s lives….rabbit or no rabbit…rabbit’s foot or no rabbit’s foot….just a fun connection to folklore and local history…bringing family storytelling together.

      Like

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