February 28 is National Tooth Fairy Day! The tooth fairy is a mythical winged being who visits sleeping children in the night who have lost their baby teeth. The children place their lost teeth under their pillows and in exchange, the tooth fairy will leave the child a small gift.
The legend of the tooth fairy stemmed from traditions surrounding the loss of baby teeth that have existed for hundreds of years. In early European times, parents buried their children’s lost baby teeth so they could not be used by witches or evil spirits for their spells. They believed that if a witch possessed your tooth, she could potentially take control over you. Some even burned their baby teeth to avoid the possibility of a witch getting hold of their teeth, and to save children from hardship in the afterlife. Northern Europeans believed in the tann-fé or tooth fee, which was paid to children after the loss of their first tooth. The Norse believed that items belonging to children, including their baby teeth, were good luck in battle, and they would often pay their children for their lost teeth and make jewelry out of them to wear on the battlefield.
Modern versions of the tooth fairy we know today, who flies into children’s rooms and leaves small gifts or money under their pillows in exchange for their teeth first appeared in a children’s play in 1927. The tradition has become as widespread and popular with children as Santa Claus and the Easter bunny, though debates as to the tooth fairy’s appearance have sprung up over the years. While studies show that 74% of people think the tooth fairy is female, some believe the mythical being to be male or neither.
Many parents use the myth as a way to soothe or put at ease children who experience fear or pain over losing a tooth. Some even use it as a way to improve their children’s dental hygiene by telling them that the tooth fairy pays more for healthy teeth than teeth that are decayed.
Though we’re not sure who created this day, you’ve got two days to celebrate with your little ones – National Tooth Fairy Day is also celebrated on August 22!