March 1 is an important day – not only are you required to say “White Rabbits” before you speak to anyone else on the day, to ensure good luck for the rest of the year, March 1 was also the original start of the year in the Roman calendar.
It is not known when the New Year was changed to January 1 in the Roman Empire – the Julian calendar was reformed by Julius Caesar in 46BC and this is when the change might have taken place. It is believed January was chosen because the God Janus looks both ways – ie at the old year passing and the new year approaching.
March 1 is also St David’s Day – St David resisted the Norman invasion of the lands that form Wales and was a considered a saint as a result. At school I used to approach St David’s Day with a certain nervousness – because my family name is Welsh (Meredith), the nuns used to dress me up in Welsh costume on St David’s Day, along with my other Welsh classmates. There are photos of me looking very small in a tall black hat, clutching bunches of daffodils and standing next to a statue of the Virgin Mary.
As for white rabbits, the origins of this are varied – some people say it should be said at the start of every month with an R in the name – others at the start of every month for good luck. I was brought up to say “White Rabbits” only on March 1 to bring in luck for the year ahead. It would seem to be a throwback to the old Roman calendar – or maybe because March is when rabbits start popping their heads up out of their burrows after winter and perhaps ended up in the pot as a satisfying meal for generations past.
Most roads seem to lead to Rome, though…
Fancy going to Rome?
A trip to Rome in the spring is ideal – the weather can be very warm, but not as stifling as in the summer months of July and August. Whether you enjoy history, shopping, dining out or nightlife, Rome is a relaxed and vibrant city to visit – and there is always the romance of sites like the Trevi Fountain if you are going with someone special.
Can’t get to Rome? Download ROME ALONE free at Amazon Kindle and set off with housewife Bee and Alzheimer’s expert Dr Neil McCarthy, as they leave from opposite ends of the country for a reluctant break in the Eternal City, where their lives will be changed in ways they do not expect. Adult content and themes. 5-star Amazon review.
and white rabbits.
Featured image: Vittorio Emanuele II monument, which stands on Capitoline Hill overlooking the Forum. Vittorio Emanuele II was the first king of a unified Italy. The monument was designed at the end of the 19th century and was completed in 1935. It is constructed from white marble and was controversial because of its site occupying a large expanse of the ancient Capitoline Hill.