One of the most prominent figures of the magic of childhood is the Tooth Fairy, but depending on where and when you are, the traditions around lost baby teeth are very different from what we have in our culture!
Baby Teeth in Medieval Europe:
Centuries before the Tooth Fairy came along to swap teeth under pillows for quarters, she might’ve needed to dig them up or find them in fireplaces, because Medieval Europeans believed that witches could control people through their teeth, so they would burn or bury theirs.
Kids also burned their baby teeth to help guarantee a peaceful afterlife, because there was a belief that they might be doomed to search for their teeth for eternity as ghosts if they didn’t destroy them.
A Warrior’s Prized Accessory:
A little farther north, the Vikings had a very different view: baby teeth were such powerful symbols of good luck in battle that warriors would buy them to put on necklaces! We can’t decide if that would look very intimidating or very strange. Probably both.
The Tooth Mouse:
Even today, not everyone pictures a Tinkerbell-type figure. Many Latin and European countries actually have a Tooth Mouse! In France, she’s called Le Petit Souris (the little mouse)-a fairy who transforms into a mouse to help the queen defeat an evil king by hiding under his pillow and knocking out his teeth! Many Spanish-speaking countries have Raton Perez, who became popular after Queen Maria Christina commissioned Luis Coloma in 1984 to write a tale for King Alfonso XIII who had just lost a tooth at the age of 8. Raton Perez was said to live with his family in a box of cookies in the basement of a store in Madrid, but frequently left home to travel to the homes of children who had lost their teeth so that he may leave a small payment or gift in return for their tooth; frequently outwitting any cats lurking in the area.
While the Tooth Fairy we know today didn’t make her appearance until the 1900’s, myths and legends surrounding the Tooth Fairy have been around for centuries!
What do you think of when you think of the Tooth Fairy?