When you travel to other countries, you soon realize that bathrooms differ considerably and are often not what you expected to find. Toilets, of a fashion, have been around for centuries. Flush toilets were first introduced in 1596, but didn’t gain popularity for over 250 years.
What Is It Called?
According to the Smithsonian Magazine, there have been dozens of names bestowed in the humble toilet over time, and some are quite interesting. The “water closet” is a name commonly used in France, the Netherlands, and Germany. In Scotland and the North of England, “privy” was the common term for many years.
The most popular British name for a toilet is the “loo,” and the origin of the name is somewhat obscure. Some believe the word was derived from nautical terminology since loo was an old old-fashioned word for lee. The more popular belief is that “loo” is a shortened version of the Waterloo cistern model that manufactured by a British company to honor the Battle of Waterloo, and “going to the loo” is an abbreviation for the original expression “going to the Waterloo.”
The popular term in the United States is the “John” and the U. S. Military uses the term “latrine.” Outdoor facilities have their special names as well, including the “outhouse” in the U. S., the “netty” in England, and the “dunny” in Australia.
Around The World
An article in USA Today Travel Tips, advises when you travel in some countries, you need to be in good physical shape because there are no toilets with seats. You will have to use enclosed holes, over which you squat. Some public and private facilities have bars for supporting yourself. These types of toilets are found mostly in Asian countries, where it has been the traditional style for centuries and are called “squat toilets.”
In Europe you will primarily find toilets with seats in most homes and public restrooms, however you will also find some “squats” too. In private European homes, you will almost always find a bidet beside the toilet.
In Vietnam, you’ll find “water toilets” along the shore, and you can paddle your boat up to the door and enter. You’ll recognize them by the letters “WC” stenciled on the door. You might think most people in the world have a toilet, but according to the United Nations, more people have cell phones.
The need for sanitation in some countries is so serious the United Nations General Assembly designated November 19 as World Toilet Day. If you visit New Delhi, India, you can visit the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets. You’ll find a huge collection of photographs, facts, and objects that document the evolution of toilets over 4,500 years.
The bidet is not a toilet, but is always found next to one. It is a basin type appliance with a seat that allows for gentle water cleaning after urination, elimination, sex, menstruation, or just to feel clean. The bidet comes in styles that match the toilet.
According to toiletbidet.com, the bidet has been used for nearly 300 years. Modern style bidets are easily traced back as far as 1750. Today’s models operate electrically, but the early ones used a hand pump to distribute the water.
As progress continued, bidets used heated water and seats. More and more American homes are now adding bidets to their bathrooms. Bidets are a healthy alternative to toilet paper. Water is soothing to private areas and more hygienic.
The average person spends more than a year of their life sitting on a toilet seat. Men spend more total time in the bathroom than women. Apparently there is some danger associated with toilets because King George II died when he fell off a toilet seat.
Talking about toilets has not always been easy for Americans. Alfred Hitchcock put a scene in his movie Pyscho, which showed paper being flushed down a toilet, audiences thought it was indecent. There has been an ongoing dispute about which direction toilet paper should be placed on the holder.
In 2010, a survey conducted by Cottonelle showed that seventy-two percent of the respondents preferred their paper “over” the spool rather than “under.” In ancient Roman times, since toilet paper was yet to be invented, people cleaned with a wet natural sponge attached to a stick.
According to ToiletWire, toilets have improved tremendously over the centuries, and you can only wonder what the future holds in store. Technology touches every part of your life, and there is no reason to think it will not find a way to improve your toilet.
Tom Norton works at a bathroom showroom as a sales assistant by day. But by night he is a wordsmith; spending his evenings writing articles for blogs and also coming up with short stories which appear online and in print.