|Today’s prompt from the Blogging Circle of Friends concerns beloved childhood myths.
"The Tooth Fairy (or Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus . . .) : a fun and harmless fiction, or a pointless justification for lying to children?"
While the Tooth Fairy might seem to be a personification of dental fraternity propaganda, she has her genesis in ancient ritual. All major changes in our bodies prompted a ritual to mark and attempt to understand them. Bodily changes can be scary for young children and losing teeth seen as a loss of power and control. Think about it – you’re five or six years old and bits of your body start coming off!
The Tooth Fairy makes that process easier. Receiving money or sweets after the loss of a tooth was something pleasurable after the pain. For this reason alone, to soothe a young child’s fears, I think there is merit in the long and noble institution.
And then there has always been a desire to ward off evil.
“Back when witches were believed to use pieces of your body, such as hair and fingernail clippings, to direct magic and curses at you, proper disposal of teeth was a serious business. The process differed by culture, from throwing the tooth up to the sun or over the roof, to feeding them to an animal (usually a mouse). The tooth could be buried, hidden, swallowed, or burned (sometimes after salting). In some cultures only the first exfoliated tooth was ritually disposed of.” (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2170/whats-the-origin-of-the-tooth-fair...)
How long has the Tooth Fairy been around? Possibly since the seventeenth century when a poem by Robert Herrick, Oberon’s Palace, where the cave of Oberon has its wall decorated with bits of peacock feathers, fish scales, blue snakes skins and so on. The floor, however, is a mosaic of plum-tree gum, dice, brown toadstones, human fingernails, warts , and the teeth of squirrels and children ‘lately shed’, brought hither by the Elves. (The Folklore of Discworld, p 294)
Nowadays there seems to be a single Tooth Fairy. This, according to Michael Finley (http://mfinley.com/pdf/toothfairy.pdf is completely wrong. There are “over 10,000 registered tooth fairies in the world, and an additional number of gypsy tooth fairies, thought to be in excess of 5,000, operating without any kind of certification.” This multiplicity of Tooth Fairies (which makes perfect sense when you consider sheer geography ) is fully supported by Terry Pratchett who, in The Hogfather states: ”Fairies aren’t necessarily little twinkly creatures. It’s purely a job description, and the commonest ones aren’t even visible. A fairy is simply any creature currently employed under supernatural laws to take things away …”
I’ve rambled long enough here so the Easter Bunny and Santa will have to wait for another day. Tonight, my husband and I take off for a six-week trip to Europe. I’ll post from places abroad
"Show up and do it!"
|ID: 1928026 (Rated: 13+)|
The Scarlet Poppy
"It isn't magic we need to fear, but rather the devices and desires of our own hearts."