Tag Archive | folklore

I remembered to Rabbit, Rabbit!

And I actually remembered this morning.


Origins and history
The exact origin of the superstition is certainly unknown, though it has appeared in print at least as early as 1420 in England, where it is most commonly said to have originated, though some reports place its origins even earlier, into the 1200s. Today it has spread to most of the English-speaking countries of the world, although like all folklore, determining its exact area of distribution is difficult. The superstition is related to the broader belief in the rabbit or hare being a “lucky” animal, as exhibited in the practice of carrying a rabbit’s foot for luck.

Some have also believed it is representing a jumping into the future and moving ahead with life and happiness.

As with most folklore, which is traditionally spread by word of mouth, there are numerous variant versions of the “rabbit, rabbit” superstition, in some cases specific to a certain time period or region. There are hundreds of variants, some of the most common of which include:

The inverse: instead of believing that saying it will bring good luck, believing that not saying it will bring bad luck.
Instead of saying “rabbit, rabbit”, saying just “rabbit”, or “rabbits”. Some also extend it to three rabbits: “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit,” which has some of the earliest written references.

The earliest referenced usage may be to saying “rabbits” three times before going to sleep the last night of the month, and then “hares” three times first thing upon waking, though just two years later, it was three “rabbits” in the morning with no “hares” at all.

Gilda Radner is reported to have said “bunny bunny” upon waking on the first day of every month. Alan Zweibel used her variation as the title of his book recounting their friendship.

Using the night of the new moon (traditionally the first day of the lunar month) instead of the first night of the month.
Another varitation is “bunny bunny hop hop”

Saying “black rabbits” the night before, and “white rabbits” on the morning in question.

Believing that the effect is stronger on one’s month of birth.

Referring to the first day of each month as “Rabbit Day”.

Various ways to counteract forgetting to say it, most commonly saying it backwards (“tibbar, tibbar”) before falling asleep or saying “Moose Moose” upon waking on the second day of the month.

A different but related practice of saying “Happy White Rabbit’s Day” to someone in order to bring good luck.

Making “rabbit, rabbit” be the last words said on the last of the month and the first words said on the first of the month.

One variation involves an element of competition: Saying “rabbit, rabbit” to another person on the first of the month entitles the speaker to the luck of the listener for the duration of the month.

Traditions also extend to saying on the first of each month: “A pinch and a punch for the first day of the month; white rabbit!” White rabbit is declared to be the “no returns” policy on the “pinch and the punch” the receiver felt. Origins of this saying is unknown.

Saying “White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits”.

A more modern variation is to say “rabbit, rabbit” to someone on the first day of the month, and whoever says it first wins. The idea of luck is not involved.

Saying “white rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit” as the first words of the month, before getting out of bed — and the speaker must first reverse position, so that speaker’s head is at the foot of the bed & vice versa.

Harold Nicolson, the politician and diplomat, often said “Rabbits” not only on the first of the month, but as a general talisman in his long-running diary, held at Balliol College, Oxford.

Around 1920 the following belief is common in many parts of Great Britain, with local variants: To secure good luck of some kind, usually a present, one should say ‘Rabbits’ three times just before going to sleep on the last day of the month, and then ‘Hares’ three times on waking the next morning.

Cavendish, Richard – Man, Myth, & Magic Volume 9. BPC Publishing, 1970
Cavendish, Richard – Man, Myth, & Magic Volume 17. BPC Publishing, 1970
Knapp, Mary – One Potato, Two Potato: The Folklore of American Children W. W. Norton & Company, 1978 (ISBN 0-393-09039-6)

There is no goddess, the Cailleach of Winter!

This because I’m spiritually cranky today, but it still pisses me off. There are two beings that do not exist in history that pagans love to create, one is Lord Samhain. THERE IS NO SUCH GOD! And the other is The Cailleach, WHO ALSO DOES NOT EXIST!

I did a bunch of research today to try to confirm what I have always been told and did not find one single source that refers to a goddess named the Cailleach. Cailleach is a descriptive term meaning old woman. Old men in the Outer Isles of Scotland refer to their wives as the Cailleach which is the equivalent of a biker referring to his partner as my old lady. See the book “Crowdie and Cream” for an example.

Every primary source I could find equated a reference to the word Cailleach as a reference to an aspect of Brighid. The word itself refers to some one who wears a shawl or a veil. Women in the Highlands wore shawls as part of their everyday dress and it was often worn over their head.

The word is used as part of several terms: the cailleach oidhche is an owl, literally old woman of the night. The cailleach dhubh is a nun or the veiled woman in black. Cailleach feasa is a wise woman. Cailleach phiseogach is the old woman magic maker or sorceress. Cailleachanta is to be old wifish or to be cowardly though why being an old woman would be cowardly I do not know since I would not mess with any old Scottish woman, especially one like my grandmother or her mother.

After harvest the last grain sheaf is the Cailleach rather like the last corn kernel unpopped is the Old Maid. The only reference I could find to a being even close was the Cailleach Bheur which is the Old Woman of Bearra and a gentleman in the 20th century by the name of Donald Alexander MacKenzie invented her as a compilation of all the winter gods and goddesses in Scottish myth. Why he felt the need to do this when all those winter goddesses hae proper names I do not know. So there was no Cailleach of Winter until he invented her that I can see.

Some of the references were really stretching it. One cited the Carmina Gaedelica. Um, which of the 10 volumes and where? And did they refer to the English translation or did they actually read the Gaelic? That’s rather like using the King James version of the Bible and citing the verse about, “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” when the Hebrew says “thou shalt not suffer a poisoner to live.”

So I wish people would stop making up Celtic goddesses. If you want to flaming call Brighid. CALL HER!

Okay, after much searching the Carmina Gaedelica I found what they think is the passage about the Cailleach. It isn’t. It’s called The carlin of Beinn Bhreac. (lower case letters in the citation) Carlin is another form of the word cailleach but and it’s a HUGE BUT! The two songs are about one of the Fae. The Fae are not deities and it very well might offend them to call them so. They are the Fae, unique unto themselves, and I don’t mean little cutesy Victorian faeries. If you want to know more about the Fae I suggest reading some of RJ Stewart’s work or better yet, take one of his classes. Again there is no Cailleach that is a deity nor Carlin. And if you look at the stories at the end of how Alexander collected them the woman in the song is referred to as using Fath fith (also fith fath, and it pronounce it the th s are silent). An occult power that changes women into in a deer, cat or hare form. (Men change to horses, bulls and stags. MacClennan) This is a faery power.

There are plenty of quite awesome, in the true sense of the word, Celtic/Scottish deities with out inventing one and using it in ignorance.

MacClennan, Malcolm, Gaelic Dictionary

Carmichael, Alexander, Carmina Gaedelica, not found as Cailleach, see song 517 & 518 the second is clearly titled “the fairy woman and the hunter”. In the chapter called Fairy Songs.

Logan, James, The Scottish Gael Celtic Manners being a historical and descriptive account of the inhabitants, antiquities and national peculiarities of Scotland. 1830 edition, also no reference found.

Only newage sources mention a goddess called the Cailleach and they are not good sources and Wikipedia also only references her newage sources and vague other sources with no exact citing.

I have over a hundred books on Scottish traditions and lore some of which are very old and fragile. I trust my sources.

I’m not the only one with a hair (hare?) up their butt about this. I once heard Steve Blamires go off at Harvest Moon about it one year.