When you lost a tooth as a kid, what did you do with it? You put it under your pillow, right? What other tooth-related traditions are there around the world?
A French Lesson on the Little Mouse - French as you like it
While under the pillow, the mouse knocks all of his teeth out. This is a somewhat violent beginning, and the story was retold with a more modern twist in Surprisingly, the tooth mouse story is still popular in some Spanish speaking countries, such as Mexico, Venezuela, and Spain. Mice have strong teeth their whole lives and can grow them back if they do lose them. That is why mice were chosen instead of a fairy. The Tooth Fairy and tooth mouse are not the only teeth-related traditions in the world, either.
European Tooth fairies
Many other Spanish-speaking cultures have also have mice or rats as their tradition. As mentioned earlier, instead of money, the mouse will leave a little gift, such as a small toy. Historians maintain that the tooth mouse was around before the tooth fairy by several centuries. This story slowly changed over the years to that of a sweet money-bearing mouse that will slip in during the night to replace the teeth with a coin. Another tradition, in parts of the world, has children throwing their teeth as a symbolic way of encouraging new healthy teeth to grow.
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There are some variations in this tradition, depending on the country. In Japan kids throw lower teeth straight up into the air and the upper teeth straight down to the ground. The direction the teeth are thrown indicates how the children want their teeth to grow — straight and even.
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In the Middle East, such as Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Palestine, kids throw their lost teeth in the direction of the sun. By doing this, they are requesting the sun to give them better teeth as replacements.
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Kids in the Dominican Republic, Botswana and Ethiopia toss their teeth, both bottom and top teeth onto the roof. By doing this the children or hoping that a mouse will take their teeth from the roof, and return to them the strong teeth of a mouse or rat. Instead of the roof, in Austria sometimes kids throw their teeth under their homes.
History of the Tooth Fairy
Then another variation has Nigerian children throwing their teeth in the attic hoping that the mouse will eat the tooth so that the new one will grow in. There are some more wrinkles in what kids around the world do with their teeth.
In some parts of Europe children bury their lost teeth in the ground, in a belief that this will cause the permanent tooth to come in. The Tooth Mouse also makes an appearance in India, Korea, and Vietnam where children place their lower teeth on the roof and upper teeth beneath the floorboards.
This tradition is said to encourage the new teeth to grow continuously, as mice teeth do. Lastly, in China, upper teeth are placed at the foot of the bed and lower teeth go on the roof, in the belief that the careful placement of their lost teeth will help the new ones come in more quickly. Instead, their imaginations are wrapped up in the magical characters of Fairies and Mice.
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