For some, Christmas is a wonderful time of year filled with joy and warmth. For others, it's a time of stress. Finding the right gift for someone you might only see a couple times of year can be challenging. But does it have to be? Should we search for hours at large retail stores for that perfect gift which may end up returned after Christmas? Isn't there a better way?
The country of Iceland seems to have a cool tradition which could easily solve that problem. Today, I learned about something called Jólabókaflóð. Essentially, it's an Icelandic tradition where people give each other books on Christmas Eve. That night, the books are read while drinking hot chocolate or a special Christmas ale. I don't know about you but I think I just found my new favorite holiday tradition.
Jólabókaflóð gets its origins from World War II where books were common gifts to give, as paper was one of the only commodities not being rationed for war time. Every year since 1944, the people of Iceland receive a bulletin featuring many books. They use this bulletin to order books for one another. Amazing, right?
Instead of buying random kitchen appliances or shirts that might not fit for extended family members, I think it would be neat to start buying books. The tradition I would love to start would be each member of the family buys a book, from their favorite local bookstore of course, and gifts it to someone else. From there, it can be handled like a Yankee Swap (Chinese gift exchange, White Elephant, or whatever you want to call it). At the end of the night, everyone has a book they should read at least one chapter of that night. It would be a great way to explore new authors and get into a better habit of reading.
Let's join Iceland in reading more books during this holiday season. Who else is thinking about following the Jólabókaflóð tradition? Are you thinking about making your own? Let me know what your plans are in the comments below! And, as always, thanks for reading!
P.S. You could always gift your family one of my books 😉 What? You thought I would write an article about gifting books and wouldn't try to slip in a promo?
Evan Bond, author of To the Wolves and Death Can Wait, is a thriller/suspense author. When not writing, he can be found hiking or camping in the beautiful state of Florida.