It’s the first of February and I do hope that the first words you uttered when you woke up this morning was ‘white rabbits’.
Why? Because, according to folklore – OK, superstition – saying #whiterabbits will bring you good luck throughout the month. So, if you utter these two words at the beginning of each month you’ll have fortune smile on you all year.
I began to wonder if this has anything to do with the colour, rather than the animal: would saying ‘white paper’, for example, work? Might we be showered with reams of crisp, white paper?
(By the way, The British Rabbit Council says that you can use shredded paper as the base layer for your bunny’s bedding. Be careful if you use newspaper though – the ink might turn their tiny toes grey.)
Having consulted various oracles, I’ve realised this has to do with rabbits, because people believed the animal had special powers.
It seems there was a pagan custom in Germany where they sacrificed white rabbits to invoke good luck.
Ancient Celtic stories say that because they can live underground, rabbits have special protective spirits and can ward off evil forces, such as witches. And through the centuries the rabbit has become a symbol of renewed life (the Easter #Bunny), fertility and plenty.
Perhaps that’s why they say the rabbit’s foot is a lucky charm. Did you know that Franklin Delano Roosevelt carried around a rabbit’s foot?
Even Walt Disney pinned his hopes on a #rabbit. Much before Mickey Mouse, Walt was offered the rights to a cartoon character called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He made 26 Oswald films, before the deal broke down. That was when Walt came up with Mickey.
But rabbits have a dark side. Because burrowing animals can cause landslips, the people of the Dorset town of Portland – famous for its stone quarries – never use the word rabbit. So when the Wallace and Gromit film, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit came to town, the BBC reported that the film posters change the slogan to Something Bunny is Going On.
On balance, though, I think rabbits are a good thing, whether they bring you luck or not. And don’t despair if you forgot to speak the magic words today. You can undo that mistake by saying ‘tibbar, tibbar’ at the end of the day. Have you worked that one out?