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Jólabókaflóðið - an Icelandic tradition

Icelanders are known for being a nation of book lovers. A study from 2013 conducted by Bifröst University found that almost half of the country’s population read at least 8 books per year. 

Icelanders are mostly showing their love for books since the country gained its Independence for Denmark in 1944. This tradition is called Jólabókaflóðið and literally means ‘the Christmas book flood’. 

Photo by Toa Heftiba

During World War II, paper was among the few commodities that were not rationed during war and Icelanders used this to fruit their passion for books. The tradition of giving books as a Christmas present increased over the years, the reason why Icelanders have been known as bookaholics. 

Photo by Loren Cutler

The most interesting thing about the Jólabókaflóðið is that every year since 1944 the Icelandic book trade is publishing a book catalogue named Bókatíðindi (‘Book Bulletin’).

This Bókatíðindi is sent to every household during mid-November and Icelanders can order books from the catalogue to give to their loved ones during Christmas.

The Christmas gifts are open on the 24th of December and the Icelandic tradition is to read the book straight away with a cosy atmosphere and Christmas drinks nearby.

Photo by Jessica Fadel
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