Most of us here in America grew up with the myth of the tooth fairy. When you lose a baby tooth, you put it under your pillow, and the tooth fairy leaves you a little cash in exchange for it. The going rate has increased over the years, apparently. American children get an average of $3.70 per tooth these days, according to a 2013 survey. The rest of the world has their tooth traditions, too, and here’s a look at some of them.
In Spain and other Hispanic cultures, including Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Colombia, instead of a tooth fairy, they have Raton Perez (aka El Raton de Los Dientes). Just like the tooth fairy, Perez collects baby teeth from underneath children’s pillows and leaves a gift in exchange (that isn’t always money). In Argentina, the baby tooth is left in a glass of water at bedtime, and Perez drinks the water, takes the tooth and leaves his gift in the empty glass.raton-perez
French children have their mouse, too. Just like American children, they leave their baby teeth under the pillow, and La Petite Souris (the Little Mouse) takes the tooth and leaves a coin. Most likely based on a 17th century French fairy tale by Madame d’Aulnoy entitled La Bonne Petite Souris, the tiny mouse procures teeth left under pillows and replaces them with either cash or sweets.
In El Salvador, children put their teeth under their pillow, but instead of a fairy or a mouse, a rabbit comes and takes their tooth, leaving behind money (the Easter Bunny’s moonlighting, maybe?). South African children exchange their teeth for money, too, but their baby teeth go into their slippers.
In some Asian countries, they don’t leave their teeth in glasses or under their pillows. Instead, the kids will throw them. If the tooth is lost from their lower jaw, they’ll throw it onto their roof, while upper jaw teeth go on the floor. The reasoning is that their permanent teeth will grow straight towards the baby teeth they replaced.
Egyptian children do something similar. They place their lost tooth in a tissue and take it outside. They throw their tooth at the sun, asking the sun to take their buffalo tooth and give them a bride’s tooth. Most children in middle-eastern countries throw their tooth at the sun, hoping it will give them back a tooth to give them a brighter smile.