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Where Did the Tooth Fairy Legend Come From? And Other Tooth Fairy Stories
Who's the Tooth Fairy?
The Tooth Fairy kind of gets overlooked and overshadowed by figures such as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny; however, that does not mean the tooth fairy is any less important in a child's world. So who exactly is the tooth fairy?
The Tooth Fairy is a legend that has evolved into a household name, particularly in the United States. Children are told to leave their newly-lost teeth under their pillows at night in order to have it exchanged for money by none other than the elusive Tooth Fairy. Some children get a quarter or two, while others get one or five dollar bills. Is the price directly related to the size of the tooth, I wonder?
So let's find out exactly where did the Tooth Fairy legend come from?
Tooth Fairy Legend Beginnings
The Tooth Fairy's true origins are a bit of a mystery. From everything that I have read and found on her beginnings, there are numerous theories and myths as to how the Tooth Fairy came about. As the Tooth Fairy is supposed to be a fairy, I would first imagine that the legend began somewhere in Europe where a belief in fairies is still quite strong. Perhaps Ireland, England, or Scotland?
Actually, what is thought to be the Tooth Fairy's origins stems from a piece of French folklore known as the "Tooth Mouse". Instead of a tiny magical being flying around the child's room, there is a magical mouse that replaces the teeth with some form of money. The legend is exact to that of the tooth fairy legend, with a different creature in the tooth fairy's place. The Tooth Mouse legend is one that can be heard in various parts of the world, including some of the South American countries. Despite the idea that a dentist in the nineteen-sixties made up the Tooth Fairy, the tradition goes way back and was not made up by an American tooth doctor.
Other versions of the Tooth Fairy legend's origins include folklore from Northern Europe involving the power of children's teeth. Some legends say that children's teeth were lucky, and their fathers would wear their kids' teeth on necklaces when going into battle. When the children's teeth fell out, the parents would give them a small fee in exchange to use their teeth for protection in battle and in other dire times. Other people associate teeth with witchcraft, and as teeth carry the DNA of the person to whom they once belonged, a witch could use teeth against his or her intended victim. Therefore, parents would save and hide the children's teeth in order to protect them from malevolent forces and curses.
The Tooth Fairy has also been equated to the Scottish Brownie, a small gnome-like creature that lived in a kind family's home and aided in daily chores in exchange for money or food. However, we often see drawings of the Tooth Fairy looking more like a pixie with dainty wings and fairydust falling all around her.
However the tooth fairy got her (or his) start, one thing is for sure, the tradition of leaving teeth under pillows will continue far into the future. Is it the mystery and imaginations of the children that keep this legend going, or is it simply the magic and power of folklore at work?
Is the tooth fairy real? A personal encounter.
When I was a little girl, about the age of five, I believed in the Tooth Fairy. I was wide-eyed and imaginative, and yet I was also kind of a skeptic and fairly smart.
One night after losing one of my precious teeth, I was told to place my tooth under my pillow because the Tooth Fairy was going to come and take it. I always loved when the Tooth Fairy visited, because I always received a dollar for each exchanged tooth. This particular night I decided to see whether the Tooth Fairy was real or not...I was going to catch my Mom in the act of playing "Tooth Fairy". My mom left my bedroom, and I slid my hand under my pillow to insure my tooth was still there.
I rolled over and faced the opposite direction of the bedroom door, and I waited for my Mom to tip-toe into the room with my dollar in hand. However, I ended up waiting...and waiting...and waiting. And nothing ever happened. No one tip-toed into my room, no moment of sheer "A-ha!" I decided to roll over and check my tooth one last time...but instead of feeling that tiny little rock beneath my pillow I felt a piece of paper. To my amazement, I pulled out a one-dollar-bill! I couldn't believe it. I knew I hadn't fallen asleep, and I knew that no one had come into my room...no one with legs, that is.
© 2012 Nicole Canfield