'Big Mouth' Season 5: Is Father Johann a Real Dutch Christmas Story?

Big Mouth Season 5 sees the Netflix show celebrate Christmas with its first festive special. "A Very Big Mouth Christmas" sees the Jansen Twins share a terrifying holiday tradition from their native Netherlands.

When the gang do not believe that a Dutch Christmas can be that different from an American one, Lotte and Mila tell them of Father Jansen, their Father Christmas equivalent who has the body of a walrus, the sharp teeth of a dolphin and a flute made of human bones.

Of course, every country has their own Christmas stories. Germany, for example, has Krampus, the horned beast who punishes naughty children, while Catalonia has the "poo log," a log that you feed throughout December so that it will defecate out gifts at Christmas.

This has led Big Mouth fans around the world to search for the true story behind "Vader Johann" and see if he is real.

father johann big mouth
Still from "Big Mouth" Season 5. The show's Christmas episode tells the terrifying story of Father Johann. Netflix

Do the Dutch really celebrate Father Johann?

Sorry to disappoint you: The Dutch do not really drink salted eel milk on Christmas Eve, place their painted eggs on the windowsill, hide in a children's coffin and pray to the Mongoose King to be spared from Father Johann.

This particular Christmas story does seem to be a mix of two real European Christmas stories – that of Krampus and that of Belsnickel, a bad tempered fur-clad figure who according to legend beats children with a switch. Neither of these, however, has a dance-off with the Mongoose King until he turns into cream.

Though Father Johann is made up by the writers of Big Mouth, The Netherlands does have a disturbing Christmas story – though disturbing in a very different way.

The country has a Christmas character named Zwarte Piet ("Black Pete"), a character who is welcomed to a town with a parade on December 5 where he hands out cookies to children.

Which all sounds very quaint until you realise that the person who plays Black Pete in this parade is in blackface, usually with a black curly wig and red lipstick (as well as, for some reason, Renaissance costume). This has led to the tradition becoming the subject of much discussion and protest in the Netherlands.

Though folklore has it that Black Pete was black because of going down chimneys, the first image of him showed him as a Black servant of Saint Nicholas (aka Sinterklaas). American viewers may recognise the character from the "Dwight's Christmas" episode of The Office where Dwight has his assistant Nate dress as him.

That episode (which is missing from Peacock) also features a depiction of Belsnickel.

While Dutch mythology may not include a walrus-dolphin creature. It does has some pretty weird characters that could fit right into the monsters of Big Mouth. The Dutch fairytale "The Goblins Turned to Stone", for example, features a female horse who sits upon the stomachs of those who sleep after eating too much toasted cheese.

Big Mouth fans also took to Google and Reddit to search if the Father Johann story really came from the Netherlands. One user on the show's Reddit, for example, wrote: "As a german i initially thought when reading 'vader johan' this might actually be some dutch Idea which i haven't Heard of`" [sic]. At the same time, "father johann" became one of the top search trends associated with the show on Google.

Big Mouth Seasons 1 to 5 are streaming now on Netflix.