30 September 2013

8 : The Legend of the Tooth Fairy - Something Old

Who Exactly is the Tooth Fairy?
Well I'm not quite sure who she is, but I wish she would at least remind me during the night that I'm supposed to act in her honour and give my son a gold coin to replace his missing tooth.  Unfortunately she didn't bother to do that and my poor little fella woke up this morning with his tooth still by his bed and no money exchanged.  I challenge any tired parent woken up from sleep to be able to explain that to a 7 year old!
Once my sludgy brain started computing properly I quickly surmised that sometimes the Tooth Fairy is particularly busy and may take a few nights to appear. This explanation has worked in the past I am ashamed to admit.  My cluey son had already been concerned the previous night as he didn't have any special tooth fairy boxes to place his tooth in, so we just popped it into a sealed plastic sandwich bag.  How glamorous!  My son was very concerned that the Tooth Fairy wouldn't be able to open the bag to get to his tooth.  Silly Mummy assured him that a magical Tooth Fairy could do anything.  This is the problem when you don't have little girls any more.  Boys are rarely interested in fairies until it comes time to start earning an income from teeth.  I caught one of my sons, several years ago, trying to pull his teeth out as he wanted to earn some money!
I have ignored the tradition of placing the grotty old tooth under the child's pillow for many years now.  It is way too hard to search, ever so secretly, in the middle of the night for the ridiculously tiny little tooth and replace it with the promised gold coin.  I've taken to placing the tooth in 'something' next to their bed.  That way it's much easier for the busy and very tired 'Tooth Fairy' to manage the exchange without being discovered.  Trust me it's more upsetting to have struggled through the night with the exchange and headed off to bed pleased with your efforts, only to be woken in the morning by a teary eyed child who claims the Tooth Fairy stole their tooth but didn't leave any money.  That's when you need to conjure up a slight of hand exchange, after a quick check in the purse, and help them 'find' it after all.
Thankfully on this occasion my son accepted this mornings explanation that we hadn't put the tooth in the 'right' container after all.  We briefly recalled that last time we used an egg cup and that must be the right thing to do.  With egg cup and tooth already waiting by his bed, it seems the explanation was a valid one to a 7 year old.  Fingers crossed that damn tooth fairy remembers her job tonight!
I did a google search to discover more about the legend of the tooth fairy and came across some interesting information.  Seems there are many different traditions around the world: 
  • The tooth fairy dates back to European folklore; it was thought that burying a child's tooth would help a new tooth grow in it's place.  As people began to move into cities and had less gardens to bury their tooth, the tradition changed to 'bury' the tooth under the child's pillow
  • In England, Canada, Australia and America the fairy responsible for exchanging the tooth for a gold coin or treasure is the 'Tooth Fairy'
  • In Denmark the fairy is known as 'Tandfeen' and leaves money in exchange for the tooth
  • In France the tooth is thought to be collected by a mouse known as 'La Petite Souris' who may either leave a treasure or some candy
  • In Spain the mouse is known as 'Ratoncito Perez' and takes the tooth and leaves a treasure
  • In Argentina the tooth is placed in a glass of water and 'El Ratoncito' drinks the water and leaves a treasure behind in the glass
  • In Mexico, Guatemala, Columbia and Venezuela the magic mouse known as 'El Raton' has the job
  • In South Africa the tooth is placed in a slipper for the mouse and a gift is left in its place
  • In some areas of Greece a mouse takes the tooth, in other areas the tooth is thrown up on a roof for a pig to take
  • In India the baby tooth is also thrown on the roof in the hopes that a sparrow will bring a new one
  • In some parts of Africa an upper tooth is thrown on the roof but a lower tooth is buried in the ground
  • Sir Lankan children throw their tooth up on the roof hoping a squirrel will come and get it
  • In East Asia children throw a lower tooth on the roof and an upper one is buried, thrown on the ground or hidden under the bed
  • Brazilian children throw their tooth outside and hope that a bird will come and take it, it is thought the bird only takes a clean tooth and they get a treasure, if it is dirty there is no treasure
  • Children of El Salvador believe a rabbit comes to take their tooth
  • Some Alaskan tribes feed the tooth to an animal, such as a dog, and ask for it to be replaced
  • Many Central American countries make their children's baby teeth into jewellery.  This tradition is thought to date back to Viking times, the treasured jewellery items were used by Vikings in battle to bring luck and the child was paid a 'tooth fee' for the use of their jewellery.

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