The tooth fairy is a mythical person very unique from others. She travels the world diligently visiting children while they sleep to trade with them a set monetary value for their lost teeth. To honor her endeavors there are two days of the year set aside as National Tooth Fairy Day these being February 28th and August 22nd.
Although few people have ever seen her. She is depicted as being a beautiful or grandmotherly fairy. Generally shown as being clothed in a beautiful flowing gown she carries a small wand that sparkles and rains down tiny rainbow colored dust as she twirls it to draw out the small teeth hidden under pillows where the young children sleep.
In fairy form she has no name and is referred to only as the Tooth Fairy but this is not the only form that she is recognized as appearing in. Her legend is as intriguing as she herself is.
It All Begins With a Wee Little Mouse
In most cultures and countries the origin of the tooth fairy begins with a tiny mouse. Some say that the Tooth Fairy originated in France within a long ago told fairy tale.
A fairy tale told in 17th century France a fairy changes herself into a tiny mouse who hides beneath an evil kings pillows. She does this so that she might harass him in the middle of the night and thereby free the good queen and her daughter from his tyranny.
This story of a little fairy mouse is La Bonne Petite Souris by Madame d’Aulnoy and today it is la petite souris who visits children in the night.
This wee mouse is a fairy who morphs into a tiny mouse to provide rewards to children in exchange for their lost baby teeth. She scampers beneath the child's pillow in the night and in exchange for the tooth leaves either money or a sweet.
The Mouse is Present in Tales From Other Cultures as Well
Although with a different story line behind it, the early connection of a mouse to lost teeth exists also within India, Korea, Vietnam, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Spain as well as a number of other countries. In Spain it is a small mouse simply known as "el Ratoncito Perez" or "The Tooth Mouse" who places a coin under the child's pillow while they sleep.
The tooth mouse offers a monetary exchange and then it takes the tooth away for its own purposes. In Ireland this mouse is known as Annabogle while in Italy it is known as Topino.
In Asian countries it is traditional to throw an upper jaw tooth into the floor boards of the home, and a lower jaw tooth either within the rafters of the home, or onto the roof of the home. As the child tosses the tooth he or she shouts a wish for the tooth to be replaced by the tooth of a mouse.
It is believed that this custom insures strong healthy teeth for a lifetime to come. This is based on the fact that a mouse's teeth continue to grow, and therefor remain healthy throughout its lifetime.
In other cultures it is a custom to toss the lost tooth into a fire as a means of preventing hardship from falling onto the child.
With the passing of time the tooth mouse has in many countries magically transformed itself into a beautiful maiden with wings and a magic wand to help her extract found teeth from under pillows around the world. This is the image we have in the United States and Canada.
This glittery sparkling fairy lives within the hearts and minds of children and her visits are looked forward to with great excitement. Indeed it is within the innocent wonder of children that mythical persons like the Tooth Fairy are able to come to life.
There is no set fee that she pays and her rewards are largely based on a parent's income, the amount paid to peers, and sometimes on which tooth is lost and the degree of difficulty in its extraction.
One thing remains as a given: If a child believes in the tooth fairy then she exists. Children provide the entry port for fairies, mythical beasts, and other magical beings to come to life. These special beings live within a child's world to enliven, excite, and entice them into an adulthood filled with optimism and generosity.
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