Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Truth About The Tooth Fairy

As promised, today, Jenny Meyerhoff is going to give us the inside scoop on the Tooth Fairy!

THIRD GRADE BABY deals with one of the most common rites of childhood passage in our country…a visit from the tooth fairy. Though for Polly, the main character, things don’t go as smoothly as they did for her classmates who lost their first teeth in kindergarten and the first grade. When late-bloomer Polly loses her first tooth, she’s already a third grader. And most of her classmates have begun to doubt or out-and-out disbelieve in the existance of the tooth fairy.

The tooth fairy, so popular with kids in America, is a tradition we share with only a few other countries, Ireland, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Portugal and the UK. It’s not a very old tradition either. The first references to the tooth fairy only appeared around 1900, and she didn’t take off in popularity until the 1950’s.

Around the world, however, different cultures have been commemorating the loss of baby teeth for far longer than 100 years, by feeding milk teeth to animals, burying them and offering them to the sun.

Oliver Wu, one of Polly’s best friends, has never believed in the tooth fairy. His father is from China, and he practices a different tradition. Whenever he loses an upper tooth, he puts it under his bed. Whenever he loses an upper tooth, he throws it on the roof. This is suppose to ensure that the new teeth will grow in in the right direction.

If you are interested in learning more about different tooth traditions, there are some great books for you. THROW YOUR TOOTH ON THE ROOF: Tooth Traditions From Around the World, by Selby Beeler and TOOTH TALES FROM AROUND THE WORLD, by Marlene Targ Brill.


Barrie said...

Very interesting!

Jenny Meyerhoff said...

We've definitely tweaked the tradition in my house a bit.

For instance, the tooth fairy always writes letters. (And expects them.)