The Tooth Fairy, Mouse or Magpie
In America, the sweet, gentle tooth fairy flits into a bedroom when a child puts a lost tooth under her pillow, and the fairy replaces it with delightful money. Most don’t think much about where the tooth fairy came from, but the tooth fairy flew out of old superstitions about how different cultures handle lost teeth.
Witches Teeth Curses
Some European cultures believed that witches could use a body part like a tooth to have power over the person whom the tooth belonged to. That is why in old English tradition the tooth must be thrown into the fire, or buried in the garden, so the witches couldn’t find them and cast spells over the children.
Also once the tooth was buried it represented a strong tooth growing up in its place. This eventually led to children instead of burying it in the backyard to bury it under their pillow for the tooth fairy to find and turn it into cash.
The Tooth Mouse
In French and Latin America, it is not a tooth fairy, but a tooth mouse, dressed in a fairy outfit that sneaks in to take the tooth and leave behind a treat. The French tooth mouse stems from a fairy tale about La Bonne Petite Souris, a small, good mouse that helped the Queen conquer an evil King by hiding under his pillow and bashing out all his teeth.
Magpie Taking Teeth
In Korea and Japan and other parts of Asia some believe they should throw the lower teeth on the roof, so the new one will grow up, and throw the upper teeth below the house, so it grows down. Korean children sing to the magpie, who brings good luck, when they throw the tooth, “Magpie, magpie, I’ll give you my old tooth, will you give me a new one?”
In the Middle East, children throw their teeth to the sun, while saying a prayer for a strong tooth to come in. This might come from a pre-Islamic offering from the 13th century.
What does your family believe about the tooth fairy? Where do your traditions come from? Leave a comment, and share with us.