Monday, January 30, 2012
Le Petit Souris
Last night, my youngest host sister was in the bathroom when, all of a sudden, she cried out. I was down the hall, but I rushed to the bathroom door and called out to her very concerningly. Clemence allowed me to enter and she held her small hands toward my face. Cupped in Clemence's hands was a small tooth that fell onto the sink while she was brushing her teeth. As I looked at her radiating face I saw the little space among her teeth as she wore a hug grin. She explained to me the next night she needed to place her tooth under her pillow if she wanted the fairy mouse to come. At the moment I had to think twice about what she said. A mouse, or did she mean the tooth fairy? In fact, I heard her correctly. This surprised me, yet almost every little, simple situation or tradition in Belgium has its own twist, as well as any other country. My host sister told me the french legend and the tradition of the little mouse. Whenever a child looses a tooth, he or she must place it under their pillow for the mouse to come and swap it for a coin. In France, the mouse transforms into a fairy before searching for the tooth. My american parents told me a different tooth fairy story; it only included a fairy and not a mouse. The french fairy tale originated from a book called "La Bonne Petite Souris," by Madame d'Aulnoy during the 17th century and the american fairy tale - my tradition - was published by Lee Rogow in the 19th century. The myth started to become more popular during the 20th century - lucky for me! There are various names for the tooth fairy all over the world like El Ratoncito Pérez; the Spanish-speaking (Spain, Argentina, ect.) tooth mouse, El Raton; the Mexian version, the Catalonian (a region in Spain) traditional name for the tooth fairy is Els Angelets, Zahnfee; the German tooth fairy, The Norwegian tooth fairy which is named Tannfe, Topino and Fatina which originated from Quebec and Italy, and lastly France, Belgium, Switzerland, Morocco, Algeria, and Luwembourg have the tooth mouse (le souris). In Ireland, it is known as Annabogle, but their tradition was reciently invented. Even though the tooth fairy names are different and the manner in which the myth is performed, it still aims to reassure children after they lose their teeth. The next day, after my host sister placed her tooth under her pillow, she showed me the coin "the little tooth mouse" left for her.