Jolabokaflod: Simplifying Christmas with Books


If you’re looking for a way to simplify this Christmas, consider adding Jolabokaflod to your Christmas Eve plan.

What is Jolabokaflod?

One of the most popular holiday traditions in Iceland is Jolabokaflod (prounounciation), or “Christmas book flood.” During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Icelanders go to the shops to find the perfect book for their loved ones.

On December 24, they celebrate Jolabokaflod. After they open their special gifts, they spend the rest of the evening reading.

A Culture of Storytellers

Did you know Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world? According to the BBC, one in ten people living in Iceland will publish a book. Long, dark winters seem to have created a culture of people who are natural storytellers. Plus, what’s better than snuggling up with a cozy blanket and reading a book on a cold winter night?

During World World II, paper was one of the few things that wasn’t restricted or expensive. Icelanders continued to love reading books, even when many other things were scarce. Each fall since 1944, an Icelandic publisher sends out a catalog of books to every home to kick off the holiday season.

Simplify Your Christmas

Meanwhile, every year, Christmas in America seems to grow a little bigger. More decorations, more gifts, more commitments, more money, and less time together.

If your family is ready to cut back and enjoy the simple wonders of Christmas, you may want to consider trying Jolabokaflod. This simple tradition allows for a thoughtful gift and lots of quality time spent together.

If you host a large family gathering, you could take Jolabokaflod to the next level and do a book exchange. Imagine a white elephant game, but instead of random stuff, the presents would be books.

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for someone, check out our Book Shopping Guides. We even have the lists broken down by ages.

Happy Jolabokaflod!