I heard the arrival of a text before the sun entered from off-stage on the first day of March.
A second one clocked in a few minutes later.
From the cozy confines of my bed, far, far away from the sticky dopamine hits of my phone in the kitchen, I knew the gist of said texts: “Rabbit rabbit.” One from my mom, and the other from my mom’s younger sister, who lives in the future, otherwise known as Eastern Standard Time, two hours ahead on the Florida coast.
No, the ladies in my family don’t just text each other random animal names from bed. We’re upholding a time-honored tradition known as ... well, I’m not sure what it’s known as, as it seems to be a nugget of folklore.
According to the Farmers’ Almanac, saying rabbit twice before anything else on the inaugural day of each new month shall bring you good luck for 30 days. Also? The words must be spoken out loud.
Which, rats. I’m not sure if my rabbiting cohorts know this part. I didn’t.
The three of us are notoriously phone-shy, but decent at punching out a few words on a tiny keyboard. Does this mean my luck hath run dry by month’s midsection? Maybe putting the words out into the world guarantees me some sort of prosperity, but the lack of vocalizing them slices my good fortune in half.
And what does this luck look like, pray tell? Are we talking about an influx of cash that would make my financial planner earn his keep? Or are there romantic proposals in the offing? What about just one month where something doesn’t go wrong in my house and require 13 phone calls and many dollar bills and sleepless nights to fix? Because I would choose the latter, if the universe is offering.
According to ye olde farmers over at almanac headquarters, a mystery surrounds the origins of “rabbit rabbit,” which is unsurprising. Folklore is like that childhood game of telephone, where one person whispers something in another’s ear, and by the time it gets around the circle of kids, the phrase has changed in nonsensical ways. In my family, being the first one to get “rabbit rabbit” out into the atmosphere is deemed the winner, of sorts, though there is no prize I’m aware of, other than bragging rights.
My mother learned it from her mother, who learned it from a woman she worked with at The Ridgefield Press in Ridgefield, Conn., probably somewhere in the early 20th century. And our tradition has always seemed to be more of a friendly competition of who can catch the hare first, with the addition of a few cutthroat words, such as “Ha! Got you! I win!” Although, those sweet add-ons might be coming predominantly from my phone, now that I think about it.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt also was a rabbit sort of fellow, who allegedly carried a rabbit’s foot during the 1932 election and also uttered the magical phrase every month, according to several online sources.
The first written record of this rascally phrase can be traced to “Notes and Queries,” a 1909 British periodical, the author of which writes his daughters always said “rabbits” on the first of the month. And why rabbits? It’s likely for the same reason some of us tote around a rabbit’s foot to ensure a benevolent universe. Not me. I have always been of firm mind to allow tiny bunnies to keep all of their adorable feet, even at the expense of my luck.
The website History.com notes there is no clear-cut reason why rabbits and their thumpers have long been considered auspicious. But bunnies are often associated with fertility and fresh beginnings. But if we’re fertility professionals, then why not mice? I once heard a startling nugget when dealing with the tiny creatures in my home: If you have a pair of romantically inclined mice, you could theoretically have a million mice in a year’s time, if conditions were mice-perfect.
Good gracious! Shall we all start a new bit of folklore? “Mouse mouse?” I could use a bit of prolific luck that multiplies into the millions. How about you?
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