Rabbits and Luck

Chinese New Year on February 3, 2011 will usher in the Year of the Rabbit, according to the Chinese Zodiac. The Rabbit is said to be the luckiest of all the signs, but this isn’t unusual. Rabbits have been associated with luck in many cultures over the centuries.

Rabbit Day

In parts of Britain, the first day of any month is nicknamed “Rabbit Day”. Folklore has it that saying the words “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit”, “white rabbits”, or even “bunny, bunny” upon waking up on the first day of the month will ensure good luck. Forget to do it? Say “tibbar, tibbar” (yup, that’s “rabbit” backwards!) before falling asleep that evening.

There are endless variations on this, including saying “black rabbits” just before bed as part of the charm. A two-part ritual calls for you to say “rabbits, rabbits” as you fall asleep on the last day of the month, and “hares, hares” when you rise. By the way, those have to be the first words spoken in the morning!

Rather than doing it monthly, some people believe that saying “rabbit, rabbit” on the first day of the New Year is sufficient to bring luck all year long. Saying it on the first night of the new moon is supposed to be effective too. If it’s your birth month, then the luck is supposed to be stronger for you during that time. Some people recite an old British nursery rhyme, which goes like this:

Rabbits hot and rabbits cold,
Rabbits new and rabbits old,
Rabbits tender, rabbits tough,
Never can we have enough!

Here in North America there are many variations of the “rabbit rabbit” ritual, particularly on the East coast. In recent years, the practice has been updated to include tweeting “rabbit rabbit” on the first day of every month! This was a noted trend on Twitter in 2009.

Rabbits, lucky and unlucky

So why are rabbits thought to be lucky? One explanation has to do with their ability to jump, and it’s the reason some folks carry a rabbit’s foot – it represents leaping into the future and moving forward in life. Others carry a rabbit’s foot to ward off arthritis and rheumatism. In Wales it’s been said that brushing the face of a newborn child with a rabbit’s foot will keep away evil spirits and bring the child good luck for the rest of his life. Rabbits have often been associated with fertility and abundance, and seeing a rabbit sitting still is supposed to be a good omen.

Not everything about rabbits is rosy, however. If you see a rabbit run across your path, it’s like the proverbial black cat – bad luck will follow. If a rabbit runs down the street, some superstitions say that fire will soon occur in a nearby home. A variation is if a rabbit runs through your garden, bad luck has just run through your life. In a few parts of Britain, white rabbits were once thought to be witches in animal form and associated with evil spirits! This puts a whole new spin on the classic story of Alice In Wonderland, and all the trouble that Alice gets into by following a White Rabbit. There are remnants of this superstition even today, and in some places white rabbits are shied away from as pets!

Hunters, farmers and irate gardeners would often refuse to shoot black rabbits for fear of bad luck. In the County of Kerry in Ireland, all rabbits are said to carry the souls of their ancestors. And in England, the appearance of a rabbit on or near a ship was an extremely bad omen, enough to cause a captain to delay or cancel a voyage. It’s been said that a fisherman would rather burn a net that had been touched by a rabbit than ever use it again. A story is told of young boys placing rabbit skins on boats to keep their fathers from going away to sea.

Are you a rabbit person?

According to the Chinese zodiac, it is the year of a person’s birth that not only determines personality traits, but the degree of success and happiness in life. Those born in the Year of the Rabbit (1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999 and 2011) are considered to be the luckiest of all.

As well as being articulate, talented, and ambitious, rabbit people are said to be virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste. Rabbit people are admired, trusted, and are often financially lucky. They are fond of gossip but are tactful and generally kind. Rabbit people seldom lose their temper. They are clever at business and being conscientious, never back out of a contract. They would make good gamblers for they have the uncanny gift of choosing the right thing. However, they seldom gamble, as they are conservative and wise.

A “rabbit year” such as 2011 is said to be calm and relaxed for all of us, much needed after the ferocious “tiger year” it follows. And it’s considered to be especially lucky for “rabbit people”, enhancing all of your good qualities.

And if this isn’t your birth sign, don’t worry about your luck. It’s never too late to start saying “rabbit rabbit” !

Dani Harper

Your turn – what superstitions about rabbits have you heard? Were you born in the Year of the Rabbit?
Your Chinese Horoscope 2011: What the Year of the Rabbit Holds in Store for You
2011 Year of the Rabbit Forecast for All 12 Chinese Astrology Signs


  1. so my black rabbit is not bad luck its good luck after all

  2. So I'm sitting in my car to talk to my wife, and two different rabbits at two different locations on random days of the week, two weeks in a row, cross my path in the parking lot. Is this lucky or unlucky?

  3. PS rabbit, rabbit!


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