Christmas Eve Book Tradition

Photo of book with Christmas items around itAround this time of year, I begin to see social media posts about books being gifted on Christmas Eve with the expectation that everyone reads into the night. As someone who adores books as gifts (both giving and receiving), I decided to look into this tradition and share my findings with all of you lovely library users. 

A quick search revealed this tradition takes place in Iceland and is such a prevalent part of the culture that book sales rise significantly in the months before Christmas. The best part is this practice is everyone participates. Adults receive books as well! The habit is called Jolabokaflod, (pronounced yo-la-bok-a-flot) and translates to “Christmas book flood.” Sounds exciting right?

Here is the backstory: Iceland, during World War II, experienced rationing and restrictions on imports, which impacted the variety of gifts that could be purchased for Christmas. However, the restrictions on paper were more lenient, thus books became a popular gift. This custom continued after the war, to the point where publishers began compiling a catalog of new titles to facilitate holiday sales. These catalogs are still printed today and sent to each household in Iceland free of charge. Just imagine — instead of a newspaper full of ads for household appliances and toys, you get a book of books! And you can browse this catalog in your pajamas because it was delivered to your doorstep! For free!

Ready to bring this tradition to your own circles of loved ones but aren’t sure where to start? No worries! Your local library is full of folks who love to read all types of books. Not only that, library staff love giving book recommendations. Check out the list below for ways you can find a book not only for yourself but also one for someone else. I think we all deserve to unwrap a book (or five) this year.  

  • Book Oracle: Provide some information about books you like and the Book Oracle team will curate a list of 8-10 books for you.
  • Brianna’s Books: This blog series highlights recently published children’s books.
  • Teen Book Buzz: Here are reviews on books from our young adult collection.
  • Adult Book Reviews: Here are adult books reviewed by library staff.
  • Library book lists: This page provides a variety of lists, for all ages across all genres and reading levels.
  • Contact: Chat with us!
  • Visit your local branch: We have so many books for you to choose from!

Happy Jolabokaflod everyone!

(Little did I know at the time I originally wrote this post — My coworker wrote about the same topic! Click here to learn more.)

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