Adopting the Tradition of Jolabokaflod

Each year for Christmas, my husband and I try to follow a simple formula for purchasing gifts for our children. Some years we follow it, others perhaps not. However, here is how it goes:

Three gifts are placed beneath the tree for each child.

One is fun. Something they can do with their hands, a CD to listen to, game to play, or whatever they have on their list that would fit.

Two is clothes. Maybe an outfit, pajamas, or a fun shirt. It could be a robe or even slippers.

Three is a book. Or books. This is my favorite gift to give, though finding something my kids will like or will actually sit down and read can prove difficult unless we know of books they’ve been into that year (thankfully, that’s true – for the most part – this year)

Now when it comes to my husband, purchasing a book is more difficult as he doesn’t have time to sit down and read. However, he does listen to audiobooks as he drives to and from work. His drive can be anywhere from forty-five minutes up to 3 or 4 hours, depending on where he’s working on a given day. Books pass the time quite nicely.

Reading is one of my favorite activities. My Christmas list proves that. Buy me a book (or gift card for books) and I’m a happy camper, especially if it’s a newly published book (though I’m happy with any).

All this talk about books brings me to another gift-giving experience that I just found out about this year:


Wait. What?


Jólabókaflóðið (pronounced yo-la-bok-a-flot) is an Icelandic Christmas tradition that started in 1944 when paper was one of the few commodities not rationed during WWII.

Because of this, books became the “hot item” to give. To this day, books are wrapped and handed out on Christmas Eve. Immediately, they are opened and read, often with a hot drink in hand. Perhaps even while wrapped in a warm blanket. Doesn’t that sound divine?

Jólabókaflóðið is loosely translated to “Christmas book flood,” which makes perfect sense.

Of course, this tradition is not confined to Iceland. As book lovers learn of  Jólabókaflóðið, they begin to adopt the tradition, perhaps putting their own spin on it.

This year, my online writing community has decided to give Jólabókaflóðið a go. Anyone who wanted to participate signed up online and then were emailed with a name and address of another member who also wanted to give this a try.

The rule is to send one book to the name on our list. The book doesn’t have to have been published this year, but we had to have read it this year.

Simple. Easy.

Throw in some cocoa and a nice note (both optional), and you have the perfect gift for a fellow book lover.

On another blog I read, the author called it a “blind date with a book.” I like that thought because, well, I have no idea what book I’ll receive, and neither does the person I’m assigned to. It’s more of a surprise than what I might find under my tree chosen from my list.

It’s not too late to start this tradition. Get family members together or a group of friends who love to read. Find an online book community. Whatever or however you decide to do this,  Jólabókaflóðið is a great tradition to start.

Find your own spin and enjoy the read!

You can read more information on this tradition here

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