Tuesday, February 18, 2020

New Holiday Traditions: Jolabokaflod, The Christmas Book Flood

I realize this is the exact wrong time to be talking about Christmas but I seem to be running about two months late in all aspects of my life today so here goes:

On Christmas Eve the kids always get a pair of PJs and a book. Then we all sit down and read
The Polar Express, which was a tradition in Chris' family growing up. The adults cry. Every time. 

(image by rawpixel via unsplash.com

This year we incorporated another Nordic tradition, this one from Iceland: Jolabokaflod, the Christmas Book Flood. 

The story goes like this:

During WWII, import taxes on foreign imports were painfully high so the stoic Icelanders turned to paper, which was still relatively cheap. Books became their newest gifts of choice during this difficult time.

Today, the tradition continues. Iceland has an unusually high literacy rate and a healthy publishing industry: each year a free catalog is distributed to all home with a list of every published book. The vast majority of the country buys their books between September and November (the 'flood'), in preparation for gifting favorite stories to loved ones on Christmas Eve. Once the special night arrives, everyone cozies up with chocolate and reads far into the night.

Naturally, it doesn't take much to sell me on chocolate and books so this tradition was a slam dunk, as far as I was concerned. Unfortunately, we all got the flu on Christmas Eve and it was an ill child, indeed, that didn't even have the heart to touch her giant chocolate bar.

Sigh. We'll try again next year.