The falling snow, the crackling fireplace, the tree lights on, a glass of wine or a cup of hot chocolate and a good book to read. What better way to spend Christmas Eve and December 25th?
The Icelanders have no doubts. For them, these days are associated above all with reading, relaxing within the walls of the house, at a time to be let down.
Literally Jólabókaflód means flood (flód) of books (bóka) for Christmas (Jóla).
It is an Icelandic tradition that dates back to World War II when restrictions on imports and restricted access to consumer goods by the population made the book (the paper, on the contrary, was freely marketed in the country) the perfect gift (and unique) of the holiday season.
The custom has remained and even today for the Icelanders Christmas Eve and Christmas mean, above all, time spent in the intimacy and warmth of one’s home reading a good book received as a gift, precisely, on the occasion of the holidays.
The tradition of Jólabókaflód starts in November, when every Icelandic receives the Bókatídindi in his mailbox. It is a catalog that summarizes all the new publications of the Icelandic Publishers Association from which to draw heavily to find inspiration for your gifts.
From September to December, then, all the bookstores in the country overflow with new titles precisely because everyone knows that hundreds of books will be sold and given away at Christmas.
On the other hand, the numbers speak for themselves: theIceland is the country in which the most books are published in the world per inhabitant (five per thousand) and it is no coincidence that in 2011, Unesco defined Reykjavik as a city of readers.
Finally, tradition has it that the books are strictly made of paper, to be browsed and savored (enjoying the scent) and that the reading begins already on Christmas Eve after having unwrapped the gifts.