Tooth fairy

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The legend of the tooth fairy is about a fairy that gives a child money and gifts in exchange for a baby tooth that has fallen out. Children typically place the tooth under their pillow at night. The fairy is said to take the tooth from under the pillow and replace it with money once they have fallen asleep.



In early Europe, it was a tradition to bury baby teeth that fell out. The tradition is still very much alive and well in Ireland and Great Britain, where it is common for young children to believe in the Tooth Fairy. When a child's sixth tooth falls out, it is customary for the tooth fairy to slip a gift or money under the child's pillow, but to leave the tooth as a reward for the child growing strong.

Rosemary Wells, a former professor at the Northwestern University Dental School, found evidence that supports the origin of different tooth fairies in the United States around 1900. Folklorist Tad Tuleja suggests postwar affluence, a child-directed family culture, and media turned the myth into a custom. Dr. Wells created a Tooth Fairy Museum in 1993 in her Deerfield, Illinois museum.

Other traditions

Tooth tradition is present in United States sometimes is under different names. A Ratón Pérez appeared in the tale of the Vain Little Mouse. The Ratoncito Pérez was used by Colgate marketing in Venezuela[1] and Spain[citation needed]. In Italy, the Tooth Fairy (Fatina) is also often replaced by a small mouse (topino). In France, this character is called La Petite Souris ("The Little Mouse"). From parts of lowland Scotland comes a tradition similar to the fairy mouse: a white fairy rat who purchases the teeth with coins. In medieval Scandinavia there was a tradition, surviving to the present day in Iceland, of tannfé ('tooth-money'), a gift to a child when it cuts its first tooth.[2]

In some Asian countries, such as India, Korea and Vietnam, when a child loses a tooth the usual custom is that he or she should throw it onto the roof if it came from the lower jaw, or into the space beneath the floor if it came from the upper jaw. While doing this, the child shouts a request for the tooth to be replaced with the tooth of a mouse. This tradition is based on the fact that the teeth of mice grow for their entire lives, a characteristic of all rodents. In Japan, a different variation calls for lost upper teeth to be thrown straight down to the ground and lower teeth straight up into the air; the idea is that incoming teeth will grow in straight.[citation needed]

The tradition of throwing a baby tooth up into the sky to the sun or to Allah and asking for a better tooth to replace it is common in Middle Eastern countries (including Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Egypt and Sudan). It may originate in a pre-Islamic offering and certainly dates back to at least the 13th century, when Izz bin Hibat Allah Al Hadid mentions it.[3]

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