Books are amazing because they have the unique power to take you on a wild adventure without requiring you to leave the house. They teleport you to worlds that do exist and those that don’t. Nothing is impossible in a book. People in Iceland understand the magic of reading and the holidays. So they combine the two by gifting and reading books for Christmas!
“93% of Icelanders read at least one book a year compared to 73% of Americans, so it comes as no surprise that Iceland ranks as the third most literate country in the world (Finland and Norway take the top two spots, according to this study).”Read it Forward
America is known for being super commercial during the holidays. While it has a negative image worldwide, it is up to individual families to make it special. And so many they do just that. Iceland isn’t 100% immune to the ‘let’s shop, because it’s Christmas’ attitude either. They just go about it a little differently.
The holiday season officially kicks off with the deliver of the Bokatidindi—a catalog of every new book published in Iceland. This catalog is free and is delivered to every single home annually. This began the book tradition of jólabókaflóð. In English, this can be translated as the “Yule Book Flood.”
How old is the Yule Book Flood?
This tradition dates back to World War II when foreign imports were restricted but paper was cheap. Iceland didn’t have a big enough population to support the publishing industry all year long. So writers spent the last few weeks of the year flooding the market with new titles!
Various other countries share a book giving tradition for the holidays. However, Iceland is unique because they spend Christmas Eve reading together in the evening. The best thing about this tradition is that you don’t have to be from Iceland to take part.
“If you’re wondering how to pronounce jólabókaflóð, the phonetic pronunciation is yo-la-bok-a-flot, or you can listen to it pronounced here.”Read it Forward
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