The History of the Tooth Fairy
February 28th is one of the days we celebrate the Tooth Fairy!
But where did the Tooth Fairy come from?
The name itself stems from “tand-fé” or the fee that Vikings paid to a child when they lost their first baby tooth. A child’s lost baby teeth have many different rituals all over the world. Some include throwing the teeth into the sun, onto the roof of a house, placing them in a mouse hole to encourage strong adult teeth, or even buried in the ground.
The actual fairy? She is a combination of the mouse that grows strong teeth, and the European “Good Fairy,” which made its way to the United States.
The tooth fairy gained popularity in the US in 1927, when a play titled The Tooth Fairy by Esther Watkins, and then again in 1949 when Lee Rosgow published a book with the same name. By this time our favorite fairy was already leaving gifts for children underneath their pillows. The tooth fairy was used in the 1950s to improve a child’s oral hygiene and to ease the strange or uncomfortable event of losing a tooth. To help a child learn how to properly take care of their teeth, they even created jokes and cartoons.
The going rate for a tooth nowadays can be up to $4.66!
What about in other countries?
In places like India, Korea, and Vietnam, lower baby teeth are thrown onto the roof. Upper teeth go under the floor. Sometimes the child will shout out a wish for strong teeth, or the teeth of a mouse. This is similar to Spain and other Hispanic cultures, in which Raton Perez, or Raton de Los Dientes, collects teeth that are lost. Raton Perez then replaces the tooth with a small gift, which is’t always money. France has a very similar tradition that involves “La Bonne Petite Souris,” or the Little Good Mouse. Additionally, some Middle Eastern countries will toss teeth into the sky, a tradition that dates back to the 13th century. In South Africa, slippers are the home for lost teeth.