Tomorrow is National Tooth Fairy Day. Who knew? But now that I have been made privy to this fact, I feel the need to honor the holiday. In thinking about it, I don’t know that I ever had any real idea of what I believed the tooth fairy looked like when I was a kid. I mean, I knew that when I lost a tooth, I would put it in the special tooth pillow, place it under my pillow at night, and in the morning I would have a bright shiny new quarter! (This may be an indication as to how old I am…apparently the average going rate for a baby tooth these days is $3.70!). But I digress. The point is, I have no idea what the Tooth Fairy actually looks like! I have seen depictions here and there in cartoons and books and movies, my favorite being the Tooth Fairy in The Santa Claus 2 (if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it…he is kind of hysterical!).
So I decided to do a little research. Who is the Tooth Fairy? Where did she (or he) come from? Why in the world does she sneak into your room at night and trade you money for your useless old baby teeth?
I found an interesting article on the Website “Mental Floss” (http://mentalfloss.com/. If you have never visited the site, check it out. I just discovered it yesterday and it is a smorgasbord of interesting facts and useless information).
Apparently, the Tooth Fairy is not just an American thing…countries all over the world have a tradition of some sort of character who comes along collecting the lost teeth of young children:
In Spain, and other Hispanic cultures, it is a mouse named Perez, who collects teeth from under children’s pillow in exchange for a small gift, which the child discovers the next morning. The French also have a mouse, La Bonne Petite Souris, who leaves either money or sweets (I would imagine that most dentists are not a fan!).
In South Africa, instead of putting the tooth under the pillow, children leave it in their slipper (this is probably easier for parents, who don’t have to worry about waking their kiddo as they dig under their pillow to find a tiny tooth!).
A number of countries have a tradition of throwing the teeth, which I found quite interesting. In the Middle East, children are encourage to throw their teeth up in the air, toward the sky. In some Asian countries, children throw teeth lost from the bottom of the jaw onto the roof, and teeth from the upper part of the jaw onto the floor. Sounds like a good time, if you aren’t the one sweeping up lost teeth from the floor.
My favorite, however, is Mongolia, where children wrap their teeth in fat and feed it to the dog, in hopes that the new incoming tooth will be as strong as the dog’s. Now I have five dogs at home, and although I am sure they would appreciate the treat, I am not willing to allow the neighborhood children to come around feeding them their lost teeth!
So regardless of where you are from, take some time tomorrow and celebrate that lovely little fairy. He (or she, or it!) deserves it…collecting the teeth of children around the world must be a thankless and tiring job for sure!