Ms. Z is an elementary school Maths and Chinese teacher in Shenyang, China. We were having dinner together when I mentioned my folklore collection project. She then shared some of the interesting folklores she’s learned of from the kids in her class or from her colleagues.
The Main Piece:
Z: I’ve got this one from one of my colleagues. So, when a kid’s tooth falls, we should throw it out. If it is the tooth from the upper jaw, we throw it downward. If it is from the lower jaw, we throw it upward. You know, in elementary school a lot of kids will have their teeth fallen, and when this happens I’ll tell the kids to do this. It’s believed this will make their new tooth grow faster.
This piece of folklore reminds me of the concepts of contagious and homeopathic magic. We can see the connection that the direction to which we throw the fallen tooth is the same as the direction towards which the new tooth will grow. So throwing the fallen teeth from the upper jaw downward is believed to make the new teeth to go down(come out) faster. There is also this link between the kid’s fallen tooth and the kid him/herself. So this practive is a combination of homeopathic and contagious magic. It also reveals the wish that the new teeth should grow faster, which represents the hope that the kid should grow up quicker.