How did the myth of the Tooth Fairy begin?
It's unclear how the charming Tooth Fairy actually came to be.
She probably began her origin many centuries ago in a culture that
encouraged folklore, literature and the arts, where the concept of
fairies was widely accepted.
What is a fairy?
The word fairy is derived from the French spelling of faery.
The myth of the fairy dates back to ancient days and was quite
widespread, especially in the Celtic peoples. References about
magical fairies, both good and evil, can be found in numerous
paintings and literature that predate Christianity. Centuries
later, the concept of the fairy became popular during Shakespeare's
day, as he and other writers of that time period gave them prominent
roles in plays.
Why did a fairy become associated with losing a baby tooth?
Many folk cultures marked the loss of a child's baby or milk teeth.
Some cultures placed the tooth in a tree or threw it to
the sun. Other rituals involved having an adult swallow the tooth or
burn it. Even the Vikings had their own ritual called "tooth fee"
whereby a small gift was given to a child when its first tooth appeared.
Why is the Tooth Fairy so popular?
The Tooth Fairy is a whimsical concept that helps parent and child
mark the transition from infancy to childhood. It's a rite of
passage that is not tied to any religion or holiday.
When does the Tooth Fairy come to visit?
Although it varies, children generally lose their first baby tooth
between the ages of 5 and 7 years. The lost tooth is then placed
under the child's pillow, in a special Tooth Fairy pillow or
container. During the night, the Tooth Fairy visits and makes an
exchange -- usually monetary -- for the tooth.
When did the Tooth Fairy become part of our modern culture?
The Tooth Fairy was an established part of our American folklore by
the early part of the 1900s.
Why do most people refer to the Tooth Fairy as a female?
As a popular-culture figure of modern times, the Tooth Fairy is
usually depicted as a woman.
What does the Tooth Fairy bring in exchange for the child's tooth?
The standard amount for the "baby boomer" generation was a dime or
sometimes a quarter, but that amount has increased considerably.
Children now receive anywhere from a dollar to five dollars, and
sometimes a larger amount for the first tooth. Some children receive
a gift in place of money.
Do children all over the world celebrate the legend and magic of the Tooth Fairy?
Throughout English-speaking and many European countries, the Tooth
Fairy tradition is widely known and practiced (although in many
cultures, the first lost tooth is the only one recognized by
the Tooth Fairy). We're still doing research on other countries
and we'd love to hear from anyone who has lived or traveled
abroad and has reliable first-hand knowledge of this subject.
When does the Tooth Fairy stop visiting?
By the age of eight or nine, most children no longer believe in the
actual existence of the Tooth Fairy. However, many kids play along
with their parents because they enjoy the tradition and like
collecting the money. The last baby teeth are usually gone by
11 to 12 years of age.