We are now in the heart of Icelands' Yuletide celebration of books and publishing. I am delighted to see more and more people in the wider world getting excited about Jólabókaflód! Let me give you a few tidbits of information about this wonderful expression of the joy of reading; a few things you may or may not know...but really worth looking at.
Did you know that Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world? These books are, for the large part, published only during the Christmas season; well, from September onwards; "flooding" Iceland with a sea of new books. Hence, Jólabókaflód....Yule Book Flood.
These newly published books are listed in a yearly compilation catalog called "bókatíðindi", or "Book News". A copy of this is sent out to each and every household in Iceland for free. Then the planning and buying begins....
On Christmas Eve in Iceland, books are exchanged as gifts and the rest of the evening is spent reading. Can you think of a better way to wind down after all the rushing around; the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season while waiting for that magical morning? Curled up in bed under cosy blankets and quilts with a cup of hot chocolate and a brand new book! Can't think of anything better.
Iceland has always been a land that loves its' stories, legends...it has an impressive literary history. Jólabókaflód is an important part of that centuries-old cultural history. During World War 2, strict currency restrictions limited the amount of imported gift ware rather severely. But the restrictions on imported paper were far more lenient. So...books became almost a default gift in Iceland, cementing its' commitment to its' literary inclinations. And establishing Jólabókaflód as THE event embedded the holiday celebrations.
Frankly, I can't think of a better one.
Happy Jólabókaflód, everybody.