Jolabokaflod - The Willoughby Book Club

One of my favourite things about the holidays is traditions. Weather it’s small family traditions like wearing matching Christmas jumpers each year or the large national scale like the entirety of Ireland tuning in to watch kids excitedly sing and play with toys on The Late Late Toy Show every year. There is something so unique, heart-warming and connecting about all these traditions.


Which is why when I learned about Jolabokaflod I was so intrigued as it seemed to encapsulate both small family traditions and large national ones so seamlessly!

Jolabokaflod (or the Christmas book flood) is an Icelandic tradition going back to the aftermath of World War Two when shortages put a lot of Christmas Gifts in short supply. But one thing there was an abundance of was paper. This led to a catalogue called the Bókatíðindi (or book journal) being made and handed out to all around the country. It contained all the new releases for the year and encouraged books as the go to present for the coming Christmas. Something that was so easily available and yet so meaningful as a present.

As the years went on the tradition grew and now Iceland has the highest reading rate in Europe with 93% of the people reading at least one book every year! Every year on Christmas Eve Icelandic households gather around to give each other new books. Often the curl up in front of a fire enjoying a nice mug of hot chocolate and quietly enjoy their new books together on the cold wintery night. I don’t know if it is the overly enthused book worm in me, but there is something so magical about the idea of sitting down with all your loved ones to enjoy some fantastical new story in amongst all the hustle and bustle that normally occurs around Christmas. Any to know thousands of families around the country are doing the same. Taking this small moment of quiet and peace. Alone but together.

It really sums up the Joys of Christmas to me. A time to gather and enjoy the simple things together. It’s a beautiful tradition and one that I think a lot of families would love to participate in!

What are some traditions your families celebrate? Do you think you’ll participate in the “Christmas book flood” this Christmas Eve?

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