Celebrate Jólabókaflóð!

a wrapped package with the word book on it

We might not be able to pronounce the name of this holiday tradition, but we are all in!

For book lovers, Iceland is the place to be during the holiday season. Icelanders practice the tradition of Jólabókaflóð (loosely translated as “Christmas book flood), which is when everyone is gifted a book on Christmas Eve and then they all spend the evening reading and drinking hot chocolate. Sound cozy? Sounds amazing!

This tradition began in 1944, toward the end of World War II when many resources were rationed in the island nation of Iceland. But guess what was still plentiful? Paper! Companies were able to produce plenty of books, and they were cheap enough that nearly everyone could buy them as gifts. And so, Iceland became a country of readers, and that identity persists to this day.

No matter where you live, though, this is an easy tradition to replicate. And it’s a fun one to adapt to your own family and home. Plus, books are one of those things that are just as wonderful used as they are brand new, so you don’t need to worry about spending lots of money on this kind of gift.

And you don’t need to adopt Jólabókaflóð as your own to make books a part of your celebration. Take a look!

Storybook Costume Party!

Remember, this year Zoom parties are also lots of fun and much less risk for sickness. Invite some friends and family to dress as their favorite storybook characters and see if everyone can guess each other’s costume! This is a great project for kids to be involved in—it might help distract them from their holiday excitement.

Give the Gift of Books

Many bookstores and nonprofit groups run book donation programs around this time of year, with the purpose of getting books into the hands of kids for the holiday. Often called Book Angels, this is a great way for members of the family to give back to the community they love in and learn the deeper meaning of the giving season.

Blind Dates with Books

A fun way to give books to everyone in your home is to host a blind date book party. Everyone wraps up a book in brown paper and writes a few lines about what the book is about—a cozy mystery with a clever protagonist who likes to cook, a book that’s perfect for a 12-year-old future engineer, a collection of scientific biographies for someone looking for a role model…whatever! Everyone opens one book that sounds like something they’d like to read, but people are welcome to trade after everyone has opened their book. Guaranteed everyone will find a great book.


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