Parents around the world have been explaining the loss of baby teeth and growth of adult teeth to their children for many years. On Tuesday, on Facebook, we asked folks what they thought about the tooth fairy. So what’s the story?
While actual accounts vary, the Tooth Fairy didn’t actually start out as the fairy we commonly think of now – she started out as a Mouse! “La Bonne Petite Souris”, to be exact. Chicago Blogger Aimee Thompson writes about the origins of “The Good Mouse”:
In “La Bonne Petite Souris,” a fairy changes into a mouse to help a good queen defeat an evil king. To do so, the fairy/mouse hides under the king’s pillow one night and then knocks out all his teeth. A version of the tale is told in a more modern version of the story, “The Tooth Fairy,” published by Lee Rogow in 1949. With the publishing of this new tale, the story of the tooth fairy began to be told by more and more parents. And, as word spread, the tale became more popular, cementing the place of the tooth mouse and the tooth fairy in family traditions around the world.
Why a mouse? Mice are known to have strong teeth throughout their entire lives and even if they lose a tooth it will grow back. The Tooth Fairy is popular in most English-Speaking countries, as well as some northern European Countries. The “Tooth Mouse” is popular in many Spanish-speaking countries. It is called “Raton” in Mexico, Spain and Venezuela.
Other traditions exist besides the Tooth Fairy and Tooth Mouse, too! In some Middle Eastern countries, when a child loses a tooth, he or she will throw it – towards the sun or to Allah in countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt and Sudan. In China, a child will put their upper teeth at the foot of the bed, and the lower teeth at the head, in order to encourage teeth to grow in quickly, straight and strong.
Want to educate yourselves or your children about tooth-loss traditions around the world?
A few books that share multicultural lost tooth tales from around the world include:
- Throw Your Tooth on the Roof: Tooth Traditions from Around the Worldby Selby Beeler and G. Brian Karas
- The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez by Rene Colato Lainez
- Tooth Tales from Around the World by Marlene Targ Brill