Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 28

Rafey has just lost his first tooth, and in his words is "so happy about this".  He's even got his first adult tooth which stealthily grew up behind his baby tooth.  So unlike the ugly incident where the Tooth Fairy forgot to put money under Will's first tooth, which resulted in the Tooth Fairy leaving out a whopper reward the NEXT night for him, we're pretty confident she'll be making a visit tonight.  We've left enough notes out to remind her to.

So "what is the tooth fairy", asked Rafe tonight.  "Well she'd kind of magical",  "Where does she live?" "Umm, everywhere all around us, kind of like God.  That way she can always be on the lookout for children losing teeth each night".  "What does she look like?".  "Hmmm, let's go and Google her and see if we can see what people think she might look like if anyone ever saw her"...... 

My boy.

So how did the "Tooth Fairy" originate?

There is one early source which links fairies and children's teeth, namely Robert Herrick's poem on ‘Oberon's Palace’ (1648); he describes this as a grotto adorned with various small and useless objects from the human world, ‘brought hither by the elves’—

… and for to pave
The excellency of this Cave,
Squirrils and childrens teeth late shed
Are neatly here enchequerèd
With brownest Toadstones, and the gum
That shines upon the blewer Plum,
The nails faln off by Whit-flaws: Art's
Wise hand enchasing here those warts
Which we to others (from ourselves)
Sell, and brought hither by the Elves.

(Hesperides (1648), no. 444)

Herrick's poem matches half the modern tale, namely that fairies collect shed teeth; the other half, the money left in exchange, may have grown out of the old belief that fairies will reward a hard-working servant by leaving sixpence in her shoe at night, the child too is being rewarded, for being brave and not making a fuss.  When a child's 6th tooth falls out it is customary for the tooth fairy to slip a gift or money under the child's pillow, but to leave the tooth as a reward for the child growing strong.

This tradition is present in many cultures with the Tooth Fairy often replaced by other 'teeth collectors" like a mouse (Italy, France, Spain), and a big white furry rat (Scotland).  I'm sorry, but really, if you want to freak out a child then the idea of a big rat scuttling under their pillow foraging for teeth, would do it.  Personally I would have flushed mine all down the loo to avoid any white rat visits!

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