It’s National Tooth Fairy Day on the 28th February, and whilst most children in the UK will find a shiny penny or 50p piece under their pillow at night, around the world, the tradition alters slightly.
In the UK, the tooth fairy is typically employed in a relatively simple transaction that sounds bizarre when explained to the uninitiated: In order to help ease the trauma of losing baby teeth, kids are paid off for their pearly whites—lose a tooth, put it under your pillow, go to sleep. At some point, a fairy will arrive to exchange the tooth for some cash. In 2017, the going rate was an average of £4.00 per tooth!
Putting a tooth under a pillow sounds soft and sweet, but it also sounds boring. What about tossing those teeth around? In some Asian countries, that’s just what they do. Historically, kids who lose teeth from their lower jaw will throw their teeth onto their roof, while upper jaw teeth go on the floor or even under it (the idea is the new tooth will be pulled towards the old tooth). That’s not all, though, because as the tooth-losing kiddo tosses their teeth, they sometimes yell out a wish that the missing tooth be replaced by the tooth of a mouse. Mice (and other rodents) have teeth that continually grow, which sounds like a wise request when one goes missing.
Asian countries aren’t the only place you’ll find kids throwing their teeth up in the air—in some Middle Eastern countries, kids are encouraged to toss their teeth up toward the sky. It’s possible that the tossed teeth tradition dates all the way back to the 13th century.
Mice aren’t just big business around Spain; the French also abandon their teeth to their very own mouse: “La Bonne Petite Souris.” As is so often the case, the tiny mouse will procure teeth left under pillows, replacing them with either cash or sweets (bad idea, Petite Souris).
Throughout Central Asia, it’s traditional to put the tooth into some fat and feed it to a dog (don’t try this at home). This is done because they want the grown up tooth to be as strong as the dog’s teeth. If there’s no dog? Bury it by a tree so that the new tooth has strong roots.Back to Blog