The "Book Flood" Hits Iceland: The beautiful Icelandic tradition of giving books as gifts during the holidays

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

I recently learned about a beautiful Icelandic gift-giving tradition that takes place every Christmas. During the holiday season, the country celebrates Jólabókaflóðið (meaning "the book flood of Christmas"), when publishers release new books. And, there are A LOT of them. 

According to an article on BBC News, there are "more writers, more books published and more books read, per head, [in Iceland] than anywhere else in the world". One out of every 10 Icelanders will publish one book in their lifetime! 

There is a phrase in Icelandic, “ad ganga med bok I maganum”, everyone gives birth to a book.

The "Christmas Book Flood" or "Icelandic Book Holiday" begins when every household receives the Bokatidindi — a catalog  listing all of the new titles that is printed and distributed for free by the Iceland Publishers Association. Icelanders scour the catalogue picking out selections for themselves and to give to family and friends. 

As someone who will never give up buying and reading physical, printed books, I was happy to read in an article on TreeHugger, that there "is more value placed on physical, paper books [in Iceland] than in North America, where e-books have grown in popularity." Icelanders take pride in their authors, and in the stories that are produced, and books are a valued gift. 

The books are usually exchanged on Christmas Eve and then families will stay cozied up on couches or in bed reading and eating delicious food. 

What a delightful tradition!

Related Posts