tooth isn’t loose enough, it may be a little painful, and can result in some minor bleeding. Over hundreds of years, adults have created traditions and customs to help children look forward to losing baby teeth and help alleviate their worries. Although the Tooth Fairy is well-known throughout most English-speaking countries, she is not known throughout the world. A lot of countries have their own special traditions that help parents to make this a fun, exciting time instead of one of dread.
So we will take a look at some of the more popular traditions:
The Tooth Fairy
Tooth FairyIn the United States, England, Canada, and many other countries, parents instruct their kids to put their newly lost tooth beneath their pillow. During the night, the Tooth Fairy will come, take the tooth, and leave a little money, usually a coin or a few coins. However, recent reports show that there has been an increase in what the Tooth Fairy leaves behind, sometimes as much at $10.00. What the Tooth Fairy does with the teeth is a bit of a mystery many stories have spread about the Fairy using the teeth to build all sorts of things.
The Tooth Fairy is the fictional character most English speaking countries are most accustomed to. Although the Tooth Fairy’s modern origins go back to the book, “The Tooth Fairy,” published in 1949 by Lee Rogow, the story of a tooth-collecting character has been around for hundreds of years. It has also spread to some Western European countries like Germany, Norway, Denmark and France. Sometimes the types of gifts can vary, such as in France, where small toys are often left by the Tooth Fairy. But in France, some kids are visited by a mouse, discussed below.
The Tooth Mouse
Tooth MouseMany of you may not have heard of the Tooth Mouse. In many places, instead of a fairy, the character that comes during the night is actually a mouse, although in some cases it is considered a fairy mouse. In Mexico, kids leave their teeth under their pillows for Raton Perez, who takes the teeth from under the pillow and leaves coins behind. Much like Mexico, kids in Spain leave their teeth for Ratoncito Perez or Raton de los Dientes, the ‘rat of teeth’. Many other Spanish-speaking cultures have also have mice or rats as their tradition.
In France, the tooth mouse is called La Petite Souris, meaning the ‘little mouse’. As mentioned earlier, instead of money, the mouse will leave a little gift, such as a small toy.
Historians maintain that the tooth mouse was around before the tooth fairy by several centuries. A French story from the 1600’s, titled “La Bonne Petite Souris”, is considered the origin of the mouse, or ‘fairy mouse.’ In this French story a fairy takes on the form of a mouse to fight an evil king. The mouse hides under the king’s pillow and waits till he falls asleep. Once asleep, the mouse crawls out and knocks out the king’s teeth.
This story slowly changed over the years to that of a sweet money-bearing mouse that will slip in during the night to replace the teeth with a coin. The tooth mouse is most popular in Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Venezuela, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Morocco, Algeria, and Luxembourg.
Another tradition, in parts of the world, has children throwing their teeth as a symbolic way of encouraging new healthy teeth to grow. There are some variations in this tradition, depending on the country. In Japan kids throw lower teeth straight up into the air and the upper teeth straight down to the ground. The direction the teeth are thrown indicates how the children want their teeth to grow – straight and even.
In the Middle East, such as Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Palestine, kids throw their lost teeth in the direction of the sun. By doing this, they are requesting the sun to give them better teeth as replacements.
Kids in the Dominican Republic, Botswana and Ethiopia toss their teeth, both bottom and top teeth onto the roof. By doing this the children or hoping that a mouse will take their teeth from the roof, and return to them the strong teeth of a mouse or rat.
Instead of the roof, in Austria sometimes kids throw their teeth under their homes. Then another variation has Nigerian children throwing their teeth in the attic hoping that the mouse will eat the tooth so that the new one will grow in.
Placing Teeth in Special Locations
There are some more wrinkles in what kids around the world do with their teeth. In some parts of Europe children bury their lost teeth in the ground, in a belief that this will cause the permanent tooth to come in. In the Ukraine, kids wrap up their lost teeth in a piece of tissue and put it in a corner away from the light, while reciting, “Take my old tooth and leave me a new one!”
The Tooth Mouse also makes an appearance in India, Korea, and Vietnam where children place their lower teeth on the roof and upper teeth beneath the floorboards. This tradition is said to encourage the new teeth to grow continuously, as mice teeth do.
Lastly, in China, upper teeth are placed at the foot of the bed and lower teeth go on the roof, in the belief that the careful placement of their lost teeth will help the new ones come in more quickly.
The one thing all these traditions have in common is taking the child’s mind off the trauma of losing the tooth. Instead, their imaginations are wrapped up in the magical characters of Fairies and Mice. So have fun, whichever tradition you follow.