My mother used to say this to us when we were children and she would playfully pinch and punch us; it was something her father had done to her apparently. I thought of it this morning as it’s 1st of February and wondered about the possible origins of the tradition, and came up with the following –
The tradition originated in old England times when people thought that witches existed. People thought that salt would make a witch weak, so the pinch part is pinching of the salt, and the punch part is to banish the witch. The witch would be weak from the salt so the punch would banish her.
Another explanation is that whilst president, George Washington met local Indian tribes on the first day of each month, when he would supply fruit punch with an added pinch of salt. It became known as “pinch and punch on the first of the month”.
According to playground rules, your pinch and punch has to be followed immediately with the words, “White rabbits, no return”. By saying so, it means you can’t be pinched back.
The first day of the new month for me didn’t involve any pinching and punching, but I did do some clicking. I went in search of early spring flowers and wasn’t disappointed.