Every Christmas Eve, Icelandic people practice something called ‘jolabokaflod,’ which translates to ‘Christmas book flood. ‘ Jolabokaflod’ is pronounced Jola-boka-flod (with the ‘J’ sounding like the ‘Y’ in ‘yoghurt!) The tradition involves giving books as presents on Christmas Eve, so that friends and family can spend a cozy night in curled up with a good story.
Let’s set the scene. It’s Christmas Eve and after receiving a brand-new book from your family, you sit comfortably in your favourite chair close to a warm fire with chocolates to eat and a mug of hot cocoa to spend the rest of the evening reading.
This tradition began during World War II once Iceland had gained its independence from Denmark in 1944. Paper was one of the few commodities not rationed during the war, so Icelanders shared their love of books even more so as other types of gifts were in short supply. This increase in giving books as presents reinforced Iceland’s culture as a nation of bookaholics
Every year since 1944, 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. What a great idea!
During the festive season, gifts are opened on 24th December and, by tradition, everyone begins to read the book or books they have been given right away.
In October 2015, Christopher Norris – a senior executive for publishing and social entrepreneur was invited by BookMachine to write a regular blog posting for members of this international publishing community to read, having previously written a well-received piece about the future of publishing.
As he researched topics to write about, he read an in-depth review about the book trade in Iceland and came across Jólabókaflóðið for the first time.
As Christopher was a pioneer of World Book Day in the UK, serving on the steering committee for the inaugural event in 1996-7, he realised that the Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóðið offered a fabulous opportunity to promote book buying and reading within the same initiative.
Christopher launched the UK-version of Jolabokaflod at an event in London for entrepreneurs in November 2015.
At Christmas 2015, Christopher encouraged people all over the world to experience this tradition in a series of published articles and blog postings.
Jolabokaflod took on rapid growth curves, with interest expressed from people everywhere in the book trade and externally from the general public.
Crimson Cloak Publishing would love to encourage you to get involved in this tradition. If you are a member of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited you can access any of our books for free. If you are more of a traditionalist and prefer actual books, we have many available over a huge range of genre’s that you can find on our website with links to purchase.
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Enjoy your Christmas Eve!