Ellen Lloyd - AncientPages.com - If you are a book lover, then you would appreciate the annual Icelandic Jolabokaflod or the "Christmas Book Flood". In Iceland, the best Christmas gift is a book and it has been that way for decades.
In Iceland, books are exchanged as Christmas Eve presents, then you spend the rest of the night reading in bed reading them and eating chocolate. It certainly sounds like a perfect Christmas too all bookworms!
This tradition is part of a season called Jolabokaflod the ‘Christmas Book Flood’ because Iceland, which publishes more books per capita than any other country, sells most of its books between September and November due to people preparing for the upcoming holiday.
“The book in Iceland is such an enormous gift, you give a physical book. You don't give e-books here,” Bryndís Loftsdottir, project manager, Penninn-Eymundsson bookstores said.
People in Iceland love books and 93% of Icelanders read at least one book a year.
Reading books is something people in Scandinavia appreciate.
According to a study conducted by John Miller, president of Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Nordic countries dominate ‘literate behavior characteristics’.
Iceland ranks as the third most literate country in the world. Finland and Norway take the top two spots. Denmark and Sweden rank 4 and 5. USA ranks as number 7 and UK got rank 16.
Iceland has a long literary history dating to medieval times. Reykjavík is home to Icelandic medieval literature, including the Sagas of the Icelanders and the Poetic Edda, landmarks of world literature still widely read and translated today. This literary heritage is the core of the nation’s identity and narrative art is the single most important part of its cultural history.
The Jolabokaflod tradition originated during World War II when foreign imports were restricted, but paper was cheap.
It was a time when there were strict currency restrictions limited the amount of imported giftware in Iceland.
"The restrictions on imported paper were more lenient than on other products, so the book emerged as the Christmas present of choice. And Icelanders have honored the tradition ever since," Knutsdottir said.
A book in Iceland is a gift!
Every year since 1944, when Iceland got its independence from Danish rule, the Icelandic book trade has published a catalogue – called Bókatíðindi (‘Book Bulletin’, in English) – that is sent to every household in the country in mid-November during the Reykjavik Book Fair. People use the catalogue to order books to give friends and family for Christmas.
During the festive season, gifts are opened on 24 December and, by tradition, everyone reads the books they have been given straight away, often while drinking hot chocolate or alcohol-free Christmas ale called jólabland.
To many of us who love to read, this sounds like a perfect way to spend Christmas!
About the author: Ellen Lloyd – is the owner of AncientPages.com and an author who has spent decades researching ancient mysteries, myths, legends and sacred texts, but she is also very interested in astronomy, astrobiology and science in general