Pinch, punch, first of the month

Thursday 1 December 2011

It's the first day of December, it's before midday (at least it is here in the UK), so...

Pinch, punch, first of the month and no returns!

You're probably familiar with this saying already, but where did it originate?

Some claim the saying originates from a time when people believed that witches existed. Salt was known to weaken witches weak, so the 'pinch' refers to a pinch of salt, not the action of pinching someone. The 'punch' was to banish the witch. (I guess if you give anyone enough of a beating they're not going to want to hang around.)

But why should this practice become associated with the first day of the month? To be honest, it's unclear, but the custom does come with its own set of eccentric rules.

One of these is that if you find yourself on the receiving end of 'a pinch and a punch', if you interrupt your challenger before they’ve finished by saying ‘White rabbits!’, you get to administer the punch.

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You will find a host of such fascinating facts in my book What is Myrrh Anyway? - and its American counterpart Christmas Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Christmas. You just won't find anything about this particular peculiar practice.


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