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Would Santa prefer a bidet?

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and the rest of his crew. But did you know that Santa’s rosy-red cheeks prefer a bidet to traditional toilet paper? The truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Home of Santa

When you ask most people where Santa’s workshop resides, they’ll tell you somewhere near a candy cane-colored pole at the northern-most point on Earth. But how near? That’s up for debate—but no arctic nation claims to be the home of Santa Claus more than Finland.

Ask any Finn, they’ll tell you: Santa Claus is from the winter wonderland known as Lapland, located in northern Finland. It’s there you’ll find the legend of Joulupukki, as he’s known in his “original” Nordic tongue, a tale dating back to the Middle Ages and a pagan tradition commonly known as a “Yule Goat” (which happens to be the literal translation of Joulupukki). Today, instead of a man-sized goat representing almighty Thor and the end of the harvest season, Joulupukki wears a red and white suit and goes door to door giving gifts to good boys and girls.

And if you still don’t believe all the Finnish fuss, you can visit Santa Claus Village and remove all doubt.

Located in the City of Rovaniemi, this year-round arctic amusement park is a holiday-lovers dream come true. There you can enjoy everything from reindeer-led sleighrides and a nearby elf-inspired village, to daily workshops with the Man in Red himself and a stunning view of the Northern Lights—and countless more ways to fill any day with holiday cheer. In fact, Santa even has an official post office there where he receives hundreds of thousands of letters every year. (Here’s his home address if you don’t already have it on file: Santa Claus, Santa Claus’s Main Post Office, 96930 Napapiiri, Finland)

By now you’re probably wondering…what does all this has to do with Father Christmas’ hygiene habits? Well, that’s easy.

Bidet wonderland

If there’s one thing Finns are more obsessed with than Santa, it’s bidets. More than any other Nordic country, in fact.

But “Finnish toilets,” as they’re lovingly called, are unlike the toilet-seat bidets you’re imagining (though the Coway Bidetmega’s heated seat feature would surely come in handy up there). Instead, the Claus Family’s most-private quarters would most likely feature a “bidet shower.” Bidet showers are like a kitchen sink sprayer or shower head for your “South Pole” region and are usually hung next to a traditional toilet. And you’ll find one in almost every Finnish latrine, even in public restrooms across the country.

The trend started in 1968 when, according to legend, a Finnish engineer visited the United States and saw a kitchen sprayer next to a traditional facet. While others simply saw the sprayer as a way to blast stubborn food from bowls and plates, this engineer saw it as a way to improve the personal hygiene of millions. 50 years later, and after an advertising campaign that is almost as iconic as the bidet showers themselves, it is said that there are more bidets in Finland than saunas—and Finland has over two-million saunas.

(In case you were wondering, yes, these handy little hygiene hoses are also used by Finns to clean their boots, fill up buckets, and keep their bathrooms shiny—which makes sense when the average home is only 850 square feet.)

So…Yes, Virginia! There is a Santa Claus, he lives in Finland and most likely loves bidets as much as he loves milk and cookies—but not as much as he loves Mrs. Claus (that’s how he stays on the top of the nice list).