Why Do People Say "Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit"? Here's What to Know About the Superstition

Why do people say "rabbit rabbit rabbit"? The phrase exists in certain parts of the world, but what meaning does it actually have? Details.

Chris Barilla - Author

Apr. 1 2022, Published 1:46 p.m. ET

A rabbit
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It's the first of the month again; the promise of a new turn of the calendar and the possibilities that it could bring are enticing. For some, however, the change of the month also comes coupled with a longstanding superstition that might seem a bit odd if you've never heard of it before.

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The superstition in question is uttering the words "rabbit rabbit rabbit" to start the month off. Confusing, right? Don't worry, we've unpacked details surrounding why people say the phrase, as well as information regarding its origin. Keep reading to find out!

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Why do people say "rabbit rabbit rabbit"? The tradition has seemingly existed for more than 100 years.

To put it plainly, "rabbit rabbit rabbit" is a superstitious phrase commonly said across Britain and North America, per Wikipedia.

And there are variations to the phrase; some say or repeat "rabbit," "rabbits" or "white rabbits," according to A Dictionary of English Folklore.

When those who practice the tradition wake up on the first day of each month, the first thing they do is say these words to ensure good luck for the coming four weeks.

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How did "rabbit rabbit rabbit" originate? It's complicated.

Okay, fair, odder traditions exist all over the world, but where did this one come from? Sadly, the true origin of "rabbit rabbit rabbit" seems to have been lost to history. However, we do have some contextual information on how it has been used over the last hundred years or so that paints a better picture of how it has played a part in the culture during that time.

Not to mention, the rabbit has been associated with luck (both good and bad) for more than 2,000 years, as shared on NPR.

Two rabbits
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Per A Dictionary of English Folklore, the tradition was first recorded in the long-running scholarly journal Notes & Queries in 1909. The exact quote from that publication reads:

"My two daughters are in the habit of saying 'Rabbits!' on the first day of each month. The word must be spoken aloud, and be the first word said in the month. It brings luck for that month. Other children, I find, use the same formula."

In response to the quote, another contributor told Notes & Queries around that time that their daughter believed that uttering the phrase meant that she would receive presents and that the most effective way to do it was to say it up into the chimney, per Wikipedia.

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Over the coming decades, similar retellings of the superstition appeared in a variety of other publications. Perhaps the most prominent mention in popular culture was in the 1990s when Nickelodeon promoted "Rabbit Rabbit Day" during its "Nick Days" shows.

The network reminded viewers on the last day of each month to wake up the next day and say "rabbit rabbit." teaching a whole new generation the superstition that many carry on to this day.

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