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Folklore: 'White Rabbits'

Anne Lister 01 Jun 10 - 04:11 PM
Mo the caller 01 Jun 10 - 04:18 PM
MMario 01 Jun 10 - 04:20 PM
greg stephens 01 Jun 10 - 04:36 PM
Herga Kitty 01 Jun 10 - 04:46 PM
The Borchester Echo 01 Jun 10 - 04:53 PM
Rob Naylor 01 Jun 10 - 05:05 PM
VirginiaTam 01 Jun 10 - 05:06 PM
ClaireBear 01 Jun 10 - 05:09 PM
Bob the Postman 01 Jun 10 - 06:53 PM
LadyJean 02 Jun 10 - 02:08 AM
Little Robyn 02 Jun 10 - 03:02 AM
Roughyed 02 Jun 10 - 04:34 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 02 Jun 10 - 07:25 AM
RoyH (Burl) 02 Jun 10 - 07:36 AM
Anne Lister 02 Jun 10 - 10:49 AM
pavane 02 Jun 10 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,old git 02 Jun 10 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 02 Jun 10 - 12:40 PM
RoyH (Burl) 03 Jun 10 - 06:15 AM
Mrs Scarecrow 03 Jun 10 - 05:17 PM
LadyJean 04 Jun 10 - 12:52 AM
Mo the caller 04 Jun 10 - 06:26 AM
LadyJean 04 Jun 10 - 11:43 PM
Amergin 05 Jun 10 - 06:16 AM
GUEST,BigDaddy 05 Jun 10 - 09:55 AM
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Subject: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: Anne Lister
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 04:11 PM

Apologies if this has featured before - this is a follow-on from a chance remark on my status line in Facebook.
In my family, on the first of the month we would always endeavour to say "White Rabbits" as early as possible. No idea why, we just did. And still do.
On FB we've been directed to Wikipedia, where there is a long description of this and several other similar traditions but I'm still curious - first of all, how did it come about and secondly, who has similar traditions and where are you if so (geographically speaking).
I'm not sure who within my family brought this tradition in ... my Dad's side are a mix of Yorkshire/Cotswolds and London, my Mum's are London with a dose of the RAF! But my mother-in-law used to say it as well and she's from South Wales.
We did, however, live in Bromley, Kent in the mid 50's when the tradition was first written down.

Just curious.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: Mo the caller
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 04:18 PM

We said it in London in the late 40s. It was supposed to be lucky if it was the FIRST thing you said on the 1st. But I could never remember when I woke.
At school there was also 'pinch and a punch, first day of the month -no returns'. If you didn't say no returns they could give you a 'pinch and a kick for being so quick'. You had to say it before mid-day.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: MMario
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 04:20 PM

Never heard of "white rabbits" on the First, but saying it three times rapidly makes the smoke of the campfire not blow in your face.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: greg stephens
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 04:36 PM

Universal in England in my childhood (40's 50's) I am sure. No idea how old the custom is, or whether it extends furhter than England.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 04:46 PM

My recollection is similar to Mo the caller's, though in the 50s and 60s.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 04:53 PM

Can't have originated in Kent in 1954 as it was common currency in the North East of England in the late 40s (as far back as I can remember). In the West Country, according to legend, a white rabbit is some sort of ghost that floats about in pop videos. Seth Lakeman wrote a song about said albino creature which somebody at Smoothops thought was a traditional piece and classified it as such in the Folk Awards. If white bunnies were ever lucky, they sure as hell ain't now.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 05:05 PM

They're not lucky at all on ships. You don't mention their name. You call them "underground squirrels" or something similar if you absolutely have to mention them. But better just not to.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 05:06 PM

In my family "Rabbits Rabbits" was supposed to be said before any utterance of the day and only on 11 November. Maybe because 11 11 looks like 2 pairs of rabbit ears.

Don't know why or which side of the family. Might have been the Scots Irish French maternal side from West Virginia and Pennsylvania or the Dutch German paternal side from Ohio and Indiana. Or maybe picked up by my Mom in Virginia.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: ClaireBear
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 05:09 PM

Some American practices here:

A Californian of my acquaintance has the "White rabbits" ritual, but believes that it must be said not only first thing, but also while in the act of jumping out of bed -- i.e., while entirely airborne.

A family I used to know from New England said simply "Rabbits," and believed that as long as you say it before you say anything else, you'd be lucky throughout the month. (This is what I've passed on to my own friends and family.)

Finally, a New England-based novel I once read -- sorry, can't recall the name -- mentioned that, to ensure good fortune throughout the following year, the last words you must utter on the last night of the year must be "Hare, hare" -- and the first words the following morning must be "Rabbit, rabbit."

Claire


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 06:53 PM

In my Canadian family we said "rabbits" before noon on the first of the month. I believe the custom came over from the Cotswolds with my fathers' parents in 1908.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: LadyJean
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 02:08 AM

Mom said it was, "Rabbits rabbits rabbits rabbits, hare hare hare hare." Her background was Scots, Swiss and Irish Protestant.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: Little Robyn
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 03:02 AM

In NZ in the 40s and 50s (and even now) we would say "Rats" last thing at night on the last night of the month, then "Rabbits" first thing in the morning of the 1st day.
Not sure how wide spread that was or if it was only in my family. Mitch knew the rabbits bit but that's all.
We were both in the Wellington area then.
Our backgrounds were Scots, Irish, Welsh and Cornish - and Kiwi!
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: Roughyed
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 04:34 AM

In my family (from Eccles on the west of Manchester) it was only lucky to say it on 1st of March whereas my wife (from Oldham on the east of Manchester) has the mistaken impression that it is lucky to say it on the 1st of any month which is obviously arrant superstition.

My son in law tells me that around the Isle of Portland it is unlucky to say the word rabbit. So much so that they produced local versions of the advert for the Wallace and Grommit film Curse of the Were Rabbit


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 07:25 AM

My grandmother (born 1892 in Somerset) told me about the "hare hare" thing to be said as the last thing on the last day of the month and "White rabbits" to be said as the first thing on the first day of the month. She said that it was something she learnt as a child.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 07:36 AM

Hello Anne, 'White rabbits' was part of my growing up in Nottingham, although we didn't observe it as religiously as did my wife who grew up in Cardiff. She was introduced to the custom by her Nan, who continued ituntil the end of her days. It does have to be the first thing said on the day to be fully effective, but Elaine and I say it whenever we think of it, in memory of Nan.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: Anne Lister
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 10:49 AM

I wonder if any folklorist has picked up on this and charted the usage ... it's fascinating. I had thought, like Greg Stephens, that it was universal in England but no, it seems, it isn't at all. But it exists in pockets - no doubt fostered by marriages that take people further from their family bases.
Hmmm ... is there a research topic there for someone?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: pavane
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 11:28 AM

A Londoner - I had never heard of saying White Rabbits until very recently


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: GUEST,old git
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 11:40 AM

In my family (in East Yorkshire)in my childhood in the 50s and 60s we used to say white rabbits as soon as we woke up on the first of the month...but only if there was an"r" in the month. I still do it when I remember...which isn't very often.
geoff t


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 02 Jun 10 - 12:40 PM

It was always "white rabbits", first thing you said first day of the month. I think I learned about it from school (in Reading, Berks, late 70s), but can't remember if it was a teacher or other kids I heard it from.

I never actually remembered, so I can't vouch for the good luck actually working!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 03 Jun 10 - 06:15 AM

I forgot to mention that we had to, and still do, say 'White Rabbits' three times consecutively.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: Mrs Scarecrow
Date: 03 Jun 10 - 05:17 PM

I remember saying white rabbits but I think it was only first thing in the morning on 1st March. I grew up in Devon but my father was of Irish extraction and my mother grew up ion the forces


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: LadyJean
Date: 04 Jun 10 - 12:52 AM

But the great question remains unanswered; Why rabbits?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: Mo the caller
Date: 04 Jun 10 - 06:26 AM

Same reason the bald man painted rabbits on his head, maybe.
Because they look like hares.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: LadyJean
Date: 04 Jun 10 - 11:43 PM

I learned this from my sister, who learned it at camp one summer.

1. Assemble a crowd of victims and inform them that you can call rabbits.

2. Ask the assembled patsies to put their hands behind their heads and concentrate on rabbits.

3. Shout Rabbits! Here rabbits! loudly and encourage the crowd to do likewise.

4. Ask, Anyone feel a little hair? (hare?)

5. Run like hell!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: Amergin
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 06:16 AM

Could there be a correlation between this folkloric bit and the white rabbit in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: 'White Rabbits'
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 05 Jun 10 - 09:55 AM

For some excellent and scholarly information on the folklore associated with rabbits and hares, see the book, "The Leaping Hare," by George Ewart Evans and David Thompson. I haven't read the entire book in quite some time, but after a quick perusal I did find, "Hare, hare, God send thee care. I am in an hare's likeness just now, But I shall be in a woman's likeness even now." This charm was reportedly used to help one revert back to human form after having turned oneself into a hare!


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