First tooth traditions around the world

Spot on at 6 months my son’s first two teeth made their appearance. With the least amount of fuss, I didn’t really see it coming. One day, they were just there. “Have you made pancakes yet?” asked almost everyone.

Now I will take any excuse for pancakes, but I got to wondering why pancakes and no one could come up with an origin story or reason why. The best I could glean was that it was soft enough for a baby to gum and not choke on.

As I was researching this tradition I came across a lot of other traditions for celebrating a baby’s first tooth.

There’s an Armenian tradition called the agra hadig. Agra meaning tooth and hadig refers to the traditional wheat dish made for the occasion. The baby is also presented with 5 items and whichever one he picks up predicts his or her future occupation. If the child picks up a book or a Bible, he will be a scholar, teacher, or clergy person; money means he will become a banker, financier or wealthy person; a hammer means he will be in the building trades; a knife symbolizes a doctor and a scissors foretells a life as a seamstress or tailor.

Another tradition is getting “tooth money”. It’s believed that early Christians would wait till the first tooth appeared to have the baptism after which the baby is gifted money.

There is also the Italian and Irish tradition that a teething child receive a gift of shoes. Why shoes? What’s that got to do with teeth? Well it signifies that the baby is thriving - a safe time to anticipate his first steps.

But I think by far my favourite tradition comes from the ancient Scandinavians is tying the fang of a wolf around the baby’s neck on a leather necklace. How cool?

What traditions do you have for celebrating your baby’s first tooth?


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