Well, the semester has ended, and now it is officially the Christmas Season. In spirit with the season, I decided to publish a post I have been working on about Jolabokaflod, the Christmas Book Flood.
On Christmas Eve in Iceland, friends, family members, and loved ones give each other a book of paper and ink (as they are far less enamored with ebooks than our society), and they spend the evening reading, often with a cup of hot chocolate. It’s a cozy tradition that is thought to have come about during World War II when restrictions on imports and resources made paper one of the few items still plentifully, allowing for the printing of a wave of books, making books one of the few readily available gifts at the time. It has been a treasured part of Christmas ever since.
The majority of books in Iceland are sold between September and December in preparation for this event. Part of the reason this tradition is so popular is because of the love for reading and writing the Icelandic people have. Literature is treasured there; Iceland has one of the most prolific literature markets in the Western Hemisphere.
Writers, publishers, and readers alike look eagerly to the Christmas season for the chance to promote books and see what new stories will be stocking the shelves each year. Because the population of Iceland is so small, this is more or less the only time of the year that books are published, though some publishers are looking to expand to the whole year.
As I have never been to Iceland or experienced anything like this before, I cannot confirm how accurate the romanticism of this tradition or how prevalent book-giving actually is, but rest assured, if I ever make it out to Iceland around Christmas time, I’ll be sure to find out.