A Pinch and a Punch

“A pinch and a punch on the first day of the month!” I said to my kids when they woke up this morning.
“Mum, why did you do that?!?” they asked, rubbing their arms, a bit peeved – and a bit more perplexed.
“Today’s the 1st of October. That’s what you do on the first day of every month, just as the rhyme says,” I answered.

a pinch and a punch

And they replied with that refrain that haunts every parent: “But whyyyy?”
I had no idea. So we consulted the god of everything, Google.

Turns out, it’s an old English saying. Back in the day when people believed in witches and witchcraft, nobody was safe. That hook-nosed old hag you saw at the marketplace in the morning could be a witch cackling on her broomstick by night (stereotyping much?).

room on a broom

The kids’ favourite witchy book, ‘Room On A Broom’ by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

Enter, stage left, salt. A household staple that cleans and cures everything from a sore throat (salt water gargle anyone?) to wine stains. The hero of this medieval production.

You know the phrase ‘take it with a grain of salt’? That’s exactly what the olden day folk did. A pinch of salt to weaken the wicked witch.


Next came the punch. They knocked the witch out cold with a sucker punch. Mrs. Witchy Poo would have had no idea what hit her.
A pinch and a punch. A double whammy to banish the village witch for good.

But did you know there’s a reply to this rhyme?
If you’ve been a victim to the pinch and a punch assault, you can respond with, “A flick and a kick for being so quick.” Owww!
But I suggest you do what we always did as kids and shout, “No returns!” Safe. Whew!

calendar first of month

Did you know this rhyme? Did you have any ditties you said/sang as a kid? And did you say ‘No returns’?


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