Tuesday, March 17, 2009

El Ratón

Today my assistant, Miryam, and I were talking about our plans for Semana Santa (the week before Easter Sunday). This brought on a conversation about our cultural differences regarding Easter celebrations. For example, here in Honduras, there is no Easter Bunny. There are no Easter eggs. The entire week is about celebrating the resurrection of Jesus (that, and VACATION!).

This conversation brought on another one. The Tooth Fairy. I tried to explain the US Tooth Fairy to Miryam. I didn't know how to say the word "fairy" in Spanish so I told Miryam that a "little woman" came into the house at night to take the teeth. She was confused (and I'm sure a little freaked out). Then The Greatest Online Translator Ever saved the day, and I could explain that it was actually a fairy, not a small woman.

So who comes to take away your baby teeth in Honduras? His name is El Ratón. (That means mouse in Spanish.) When you lose a tooth, you throw it onto the roof for him to retrieve. Why the roof? So your cat won't eat him. :) You know he has carried away your baby tooth when the new tooth grows in. Because that's what he gives you...a new tooth.

So all of this Tooth Fairy talk got me thinking. What do people in the rest of the world do when they lose a tooth? I did some research, and here is what I found:

Japan - If it is a lower baby tooth, throw it up onto the roof; and if it is an upper tooth, throw it underneath house. It is done so that the upper tooth grows healthy downwards, while the lower tooth upwards.
Hungary - In Hungary one custom may have been that the baby tooth was put into a bottle with water, and the tooth melted in about two years time. (Jesus! What kind of water do they have in Hungary?!)
Mongolia - In Mongolia the baby tooth is given to a young dog. In Mongolia, the dog is respected and is considered a guardian angel. The baby tooth is put in the meat fat and it is fed to the young dog. When the guardian angel eats it, it is said, that a strong tooth will grow.
Slovenia - In Slovenia, a mouse replaces the baby tooth under the pillow with a candy during the night.

Do you know of any other Tooth Fairy customs??


ashley said...

i really enjoyed reading about the tooth fairy traditions around the world!

I found this to add...
In Chile and Costa Rica, the child gives the tooth to their mother to make a charm which she then gives back to the child.

Hannah said...

Oh love that one, Ashley!

I should also note that since the posting of this story, some Hondurans have told me a different story. El Raton comes into the house and takes the tooth from the pillow and leaves a coin. Just like the tooth fairy...except it's a mouse. Haha.

ccypop said...
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