Thus begins the Icelandic tradition of jólabókaflóð. What is jólabókaflóð? Jólabókaflóð, or “Yule Book Flood,” originated during World War II when foreign imports were restricted, but paper was cheap. Iceland’s population was not large enough to support a year-round publishing industry, so book publishers flooded the market with new titles in the final weeks of the year. While giving books is not unique to Iceland, the tradition of exchanging books on Christmas Eve and then spending the evening reading, is becoming a cultural phenomenon. In recent years the meme has spread on social media, and bookworms around the world are cottoning on to the idea.
The Lady of the House read about this the other day, but added the caveat that several Icelanders on her social media feed were saying either that they hadn’t ever heard of it, or that it wasn’t quite the thing that people were making it out to be. To which I say, since when do we care about the literal truth of holidays? Like all myths, this clearly expresses a higher truth beyond mere factuality — namely, in this instance, that it would be good and holy for people to give me lots of books on Christmas Eve. I might be able to make a suggestion or twenty if you need help choosing.