Losing one’s baby teeth is an exciting event for a child. It is not only a tangible sign of growing up, but it also comes with different traditions that allow the family and the child to celebrate the milestone. As you might imagine, these baby teeth celebrations vary across cultures.
For some cultures, the celebration is especially exciting for children as it comes with the promise of treats or money, as is the case with the Tooth Fairy in the US. In other cultures, it is all about where you place the lost teeth. In Turkey, people believe that the place in which you bury the lost tooth will bring the child luck in the future. For example, if the parents hope for their child to be a great scholar, they can bury the tooth near a university.
In some cultures, the whole family gets involved in celebrating the lost baby teeth. When Cherokee Indian children lose baby teeth, they throw them on the roof and then get their siblings to run around the house with them. Together, they then chant “Beaver put a new tooth in my jaw” four times, hoping that the child will get new teeth as strong as that of a beaver.
Other cultures also involve animals in the baby teeth tradition. For example, in Greece, children expect a mouse or pig to retrieve the baby tooth. Or in Sri Lanka, children await a squirrel. Meanwhile in India, children await the return of a sparrow carrying a new tooth.
The importance and excitement surrounding this time in a child’s life is clear from the rich variety of traditions around losing teeth! Check out the infographic below to see how cultures around the world celebrate.