Thursday, May 1, 2014

White Rabbits (Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit)

This being the first of May, it was entirely appropriate that I found a number of rabbit items at an estate sale this morning.

What do rabbits have to do with May 1st?  There is a tradition in Great Britain that it brings good luck to say "white rabbits" or just the word "rabbit" three times, on the first day of the month.

I first ran across this tradition in the classic book Thrush Green, by Miss Read (Dora Jessie Saint).

The story opens with Paul, a little boy who is excited about going to the traveling fair, which was coming to his small town in rural England.

"At last -- at last, Paul told himself, it was the first day of May!  And at this point he sat up in bed, said 'White Rabbits!' aloud, to bring luck throughout the coming month, and looked eagerly out of the window into the dewy sunshine which was beginning to shimmer on Thrush Green..."

That quote from Thrush Green came to my mind when I spotted a white rabbit at the estate sale:

This isn't just any white rabbit, though.  This is a Hoppy Vanderhare, created by the North American Bear Co. as the "bosom bunny" companion for their smallest teddy bear, Muffy Vanderbear.  Muffy and Hoppy are a young female bear and bunny, and NABCO issued a lot of cleverly-clothing and accessories for them.  

This Hoppy is not particularly valuable -- she usually sells for $5 or $6 online -- but she's still cute.

Other rabbit items from the estate sale:

On the upper left is a rabbit Christmas ornament, and just above Hoppy's arm is a Hagen-Renaker miniature Mama Cottontail rabbit figurine.  So we have a white rabbit, and two of the three other rabbits we need to make the first day of May complete.  

The final rabbit from this morning's estate sale is the one you are probably the most familiar with:  

The children's classic book The Velveteen Rabbit was originally written in 1922 by Margery Williams.  The story is wonderful, but William Nicholson's illustrations are what really make the story stay in a child's mind.   There is no publication date on this copy, but it was published by Doubleday and Company, so that might date it to 1958.  

One of the most wonderful things about this edition of The Velveteen Rabbit is the William Nicholson design on the end papers:

Happy May Day, everyone.

Here are some links you can follow, to find out more:

Miss Read:

Hoppy Vanderhare:


The Velveteen Rabbit:

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