Search: tooth fairy history
Why: In Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk:
In Africa, people don't believe in the Tooth Fairy. Instead, they have the Tooth Mouse. In Spain: Ratoncito Pérez. In France: La Bonne Petite Souris. A tiny magical rodent that steals teeth and replaces them with spare change. In some culture, the lost tooth must be hidden in a snake or rat burrow to prevent a witch from finding and using the tooth. In other cultures, children throw the tooth into a roaring fire, then, later, dig for coins in the cold ashes.I'm learning.
Answer: For starters, people throughout history have fretted over proper disposal of baby teeth. Concerns and customs:
- A witch could control you if she had a piece of you, like your hair, clothing, fingernails, or teeth.
- After you died, you would want your body to be whole. If you didn't properly dispose of them, your soul would be forever restless until you found each of them.
- You could throw them in a fire, toss them over a roof, or feed them to an animal. If an animal ate your baby tooth, your new adult tooth would come in looking like the tooth of that animal, whether a dog or a pig or a mouse. If you fed your baby teeth to a mouse or rat, your new teeth would come in sharp and strong.
- If your parent buried your baby teeth in the garden, your new adult teeth would grow in strong and straight.
- Children's teeth were good luck in battle, so Vikings created jewelry out of them.
The modern American Tooth Fairy didn't appear until the early 1900s. She is just a standard run-of-the-mill "good fairy" who happens to specialize in teeth. She was the star of a 1927 play, but the first children's story about her wasn't written until 1949. In the 1980s, she became a cartoon, a toy, a sleeping bag, Bella's changepurse...
One of the main reason all the silliness perseveres is because children like rites of passage. Another reason is because it distracts kids from the fact that body parts are falling out of their faces.
Source: 123ToothFairy, The Straight Dope
The More You Know: I am going to type out the rest of this passage because it's interesting and I want you to read it:
By first believe in Santa Claus, then the Easter Bunny, then the Tooth Fairy, Rant Casey was recognizing that those myths are more than pretty stories and traditions to delight children. Or to modify behavior. Each of those three traditions asks a child to believe in the impossible in exchange for a reward. These are stepped-up tests to build a child's faith and imagination. The first test is to believe in a magical person, with toys as the reward. The second test is to trust in a magical animal, with candy as the reward. The last test is the most difficult, with the most abstract reward: To believe, trust in a flying fairy that will leave money.I don't know about all that, but I do know that Sadie left this by her bed on the night of her first loss.
From a man to an animal to a fairy.
From toys to candy to money. Thus, interestingly enough, transferring the magic of faith and trust from sparkling fairy-dom to clumsy, tarnished coins. From gossamer wings to nickels... dimes... and quarters.
In this way, a child is stepped up to greater feats of imagination and faith as he or she matures. Beginning with Santa in infancy, and ending with the Tooth Fairy as the child acquires adult teeth. Or, plainly put, beginning with all the possibility of childhood, and ending with an absolute trust in the national currency.
I hope the witches don't get hold of her.