Have you heard of Jolabokaflod? Roughly translated, it means “Christmas book flood” and it’s an Icelandic holiday tradition that’s quickly becoming a cultural phenomenon. Jólabókaflóð (pronounced yo-la-bok-a-flot) is the tradition of exchanging books on Christmas Eve and then spending the evening reading.

The tradition began during World War II when Iceland gained its independence from Denmark. Paper was one of the few commodities not rationed during the war, and since other types of gifts were in short supply, Icelanders shared their love of books. In mid-November, every year since 1944, The Iceland Publishers Association publishes a book catalogue that’s sent to every household in Iceland. People use the catalogue to order books to give friends and family for Christmas. Per tradition, during the festive season, gifts are opened on Christmas Eve and everyone reads the books they have been given straight away.

In contrast, I’m usually spending the late hours of Christmas Eve frantically wrapping gifts, but this year, things will be different. Wrapping will be done early and I’ll be sitting down and relaxing with a good book.

Are you trying out any new holiday traditions this year?

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