February 28th is recognized as National Tooth Fairy Day in the United States. In the US, and many countries across the world, the Tooth Fairy makes nightly visits to children who have lost their baby teeth leaving behind a trail of money, sweets and sometimes a bit of fairy dust, under their pillow.
However, with each generation it seems the Tooth Fairy’s tradition has become more elaborate and expensive. Teeth that once were just tucked under a child’s pillow at night are now left in special Tooth Fairy pillows like these on Etsy.
What is the origin of the Tooth Fairy?
Throughout history people of all origins have shared traditions, stories and legends about the loss of baby teeth.
The Vikings believed that children’s teeth ( strung onto necklaces or incorporated into jewelry) had magical powers that helped them be successful in battle.
In Early Europe it was tradition to bury a child’s baby tooth. This was meant to prevent witches or evil spirits from using the teeth for voodoo or to cast spells. After a child’s 6th tooth fell out it was customary in Northern Europe to give money. This was referred to as a “tooth fee” and is recorded in writings as early as the Eddas.
Generally the amount left tucked under a pillow is determined by several factors including: country, economic status, and peer pressure. A 2011 study found that American children receive $2.60 per tooth on average. Yet many families in my area leave $5-10 per tooth!
These families are particularly shocked to know that we have never celebrated the Tooth Fairy in our home. I’m not sure why. I certainly don’t have anything against it.
In thinking about it for this post I believe it’s because my children are so excited just to lose a tooth, that there hasn’t been a need for us to offer an outside reward. For them, losing a tooth means they are growing up, and so far that is exciting enough.