It’s the first of the month–do you know what that means? (No, no, I’m not blogging about NaNoWriMo. I’ve pledged not to–though it occurs to me I didn’t make any promises about Twitter…) The first of any month is Rabbit-Rabbit day in our family. The family tradition (spread now among several generations of family friends) holds that if you say “Rabbit Rabbit” to someone on the 1st of the month–before they say it to you–you get their luck for the month.
Sounds a little mean-spirited, as I think about it–although I’ll hasten to add that I can name quite a few occasions when the successful rabbit-captor has “given the rabbits back” after winning the contest, particularly when a Big Event (surgery, exam) was looming for the Rabbit-ee. In our family it’s really about the competition more than the luck. Who’s going to remember first? How can you trick someone into hearing your Rabbit-Rabbit before uttering it themselves?
I’ve been known to drink coffee till midnight so I could stay up to wake someone at 12:01; I’ve been known to make midnight phone calls; I’ve been known, in days before cell phones, to go to a neighbor’s house (unfamiliar number on caller ID) and phone a family member to blurt “Rabbit Rabbit” before they realized it was me… (My neighbors already suspected I was nuts–that episode only confirmed it.) And of course now we can sling rabbits via email, text-message, and FaceBook.
A few minutes after midnight this morning, I got a text message from my husband, who was sitting right beside me in our bed at the time. He likes to play with tradition, so this one read: “Mongoose, Mongoose, my Wife.”
I’ve been part of this family for 445 months’ worth of Rabbit-Rabbits, and I have never met a person (aside from friends of our own family) who had heard of such a thing. So imagine my astonishment this morning to discover a “Rabbits Rabbits” Tweet from a complete stranger (well, someone I follow who follows me–but you know, not someone who would have learned rabbits from my family). Of course I had to ask about his history with Rabbit-Rabbiting, and come to find out, there’s even a Wikipedia page about the tradition and all its variations. Who knew?! Well, obviously a lot of people–I just hadn’t met any of them until now.
I rather like the variation where a person simply becomes lucky by beginning the day saying “Rabbit Rabbit” (or “Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit,” or “White Rabbit White Rabbit,” or… well, you get the picture…) Seems a little friendlier than our own proposition of trying to steal each other’s luck. But I’d miss the competition–even though I most often lose it to my kids these days, sneaky little boogers.
Apparently the tradition has its roots in British folklore, though no one seems certain when or precisely where; the Irish have their own variation with “coinín bán” (“white rabbit” in Gaelic); and it evidently enjoyed some spread in American military circles (with the caveat that it had to be a “live comm”)…
I had already intended today to write about this quirky family tradition, and it’s fun to find out it’s shared more widely. Maybe my family is a little less crazy than I thought. (Or maybe not…) In any case, I have to close, of course, with that lucky little pair of words… RABBIT RABBIT!