Jolabokaflod should be everyone’s new holiday tradition.

I’m that person who always gives at least one book to a person for Christmas. Sure, I give them something else, but I always try to find a book that they might enjoy. A lot of people say they don’t have time for reading. I get that.

I’m a writer, and sometimes I need to prioritize other work over the next book on my list, but during the holiday season I always find myself more tempted than ever to find a really good book, curl up on the couch, and pass the evening quietly.

I recently stumbled upon an article talking about the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod. It roughly translates to “book flood”, and it the perfect book tradition.

The following excerpt was taken from an NPR article on this very tradition:

“The culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted in how families perceive Christmas as a holiday,” says Kristjan B. Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association. “Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading. In many ways, it’s the backbone of the publishing sector here in Iceland.”

How wonderful does that sound? In searching, I haven’t been able to find whether other gifts are given and opened on Christmas Day, but I can’t deny that I’d love to start this tradition in my home.

Many people in the United States don’t seek out books after they’ve graduated from school. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Iceland. In the same article, it was stated that roughly 1.2 million books were borrowed from the Reykjavík City Library. That number might not mean much until you consider the population of Reykjavik is around 200,000 people.

I think that’s wonderful. I have always thought that books give such joy, and I think that giving and receiving books is something truly special. I always take time picking out a book regardless if it is for myself or another person. To think that someone else potentially took that same time to find something for me really warms my heart.

My family used to give my books by the wagonload, but that has dwindled in the past several years, so I am a little ashamed to say that I did not get anyone a book this year. Maybe I’ll try to fix that before Christmas Eve rolls around.


What book would you give this year? Would you try and implement a similar tradition in your house?


Here is the link to the NPR article I found.

Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash


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