National Tooth Fairy Day is celebrated on August 22nd of each year. The staff at National Whatever Day were unable to discover the origin of National Tooth Fairy Day.
The tooth fairy is a fantasy figure of early childhood. The folklore states that when a child loses a baby tooth, if he or she places it beneath the bed pillow, the tooth fairy will visit while the child sleeps, replacing the lost tooth with a small payment.
The tradition of leaving a tooth under a pillow for the tooth fairy to collect is practised in various countries in the Anglosphere.
In early Europe, it was a tradition to bury baby teeth that fell out. When a child’s sixth tooth falls out, it is a custom for parents to slip a gift or money from the tooth fairy under the child’s pillow, but to leave the tooth as a reward. Some parents also leave trails of glitter on the floor, representing fairy dust.
In northern Europe, there was also a tradition of tann-fé or tooth fee, which was paid when a child lost their first tooth. This tradition is recorded in writings as early as the Eddas, which are the earliest written record of Norse and Northern European traditions.
The reward left varies by country, the family’s economic status, amounts the child’s peers report receiving and other factors. A 2011 study found that American children receive $2.60 per tooth on average.
Belief in the tooth fairy is viewed in two very different ways. On the one hand, children believing is seen as part of the trusting nature of childhood. Conversely, belief in the tooth fairy is frequently used to label adults as being too trusting and ready to believe anything.
While parents are often unsure of themselves when promoting the fiction of the tooth fairy, the majority of children report positive outcomes. Upon learning the tooth fairy is not real, 75% of children reported liking the custom; 20% were neutral and 3% were not in favor and said they did not intend to continue the practice when they became parents.
Parents tend to view the myth as providing comfort for children in the loss of their tooth. Research finds that belief in the tooth fairy may provide such comfort to a child experiencing fear or pain resulting from the loss of a tooth. Mothers especially seem to value a child’s belief as a sign that their “baby” is still a child and is not “growing up too soon”. By encouraging belief in a fictional character, parents allow themselves to be comforted that their child still believes in fantasy and is not yet “grown up”.
Children often discover the tooth fairy is imaginary as part of the 5- to 7-year shift, often connecting this to other gift-bearing imaginary figures (such as Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny).
Author Vicki Lansky advises parents to tell their children early that the tooth fairy pays a whole lot more for a perfect tooth than for a decayed one. According to Lansky, some families leave a note with the payment, praising the child for good dental habits.
Research findings suggest a possible relationship between a child’s continued belief in the tooth fairy (and other fictional characters) and false memory syndrome.