Pinch and Punch for the First of the Month

For some reason, maybe because my writing has been  about my childhood lately, I woke thinking about the old superstitious tradition of saying ‘A pinch and a punch for the first of the month.’  My first reaction was to lightly pinch and punch my sleeping husband, but decided not to. He’s already wondering about this second childhood of mine.

I’m not sure if this old fashioned tradition still happens, but as children in the 1950s in New Zealand we’d say a pinch and a punch for the first of the month, carrying out the actions, when we saw someone for the first time on the first day of the each month. Some of the boys delighted in being  a little more physical than the girls, but we enjoyed the fun. The pinch and punch were meant to provide good luck for the giver. Those on the receiving end obviously felt a little less lucky.

I wondered about the origins of this quaint tradition, thinking perhaps the good luck came about from being a quick thinker and getting in first before your friends did. But no, the origins of this saying come from the days when English people believed in witches.

Witches apparently didn’t like salt, it weakened them and so the pinch refers to throwing a pinch of salt. This should be followed by a punch to the witch in her weakened state, thus banishing her.

I’m sure had we known this as children we’d have enjoyed even more fun as we playfully attacked our class mates.

Another childhood superstitious tradition for the first of the month was to say ‘Rabbits’ out loud before we said anything else. This was also supposed to give us good luck, though I’m not sure of the origin or meaning of this one.

Does anybody know? Or, do you have childhood superstitions relating to the first day of the month in your part of the world?

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