Thursday, December 17, 2015

Jolabokaflod

post by Michelle Griep
There are no spelling errors in today's title. It's not a silly, made-up word, nor am I whacked out on eggnog and candy canes. Okay, so I admit to a bit of a sugar high from all the cookies around my house, and there was a rogue doughnut I ate yesterday. But no. Jólabókaflóð is a real deal and you know it's true because it's on Wikipedia.

So, what is it? Jolabokaflod is the Christmas Book Flood in Iceland. It begins with the bókatíðindi, a catalogue that lists the titles of all the books for purchase in Iceland during the Christmas season. 80-90% of all books come out in Iceland during this period because that's when sales are highest. Why? Because Icelanders don't give stupid toasters or light-up ties as gifts. They give books. Most people spend Christmas Eve reading instead of fighting with relatives.

Now there's a concept.

The tradition dates back to WWII. Strict currency restrictions limited the amount of imported gifts brought into Iceland. However, restrictions in imported paper weren't as constrictive. So what do you do if you've got a lot of paper and not much else? Either make paper planes or books. Books won. The tradition stuck.

So this Christmas I propose we all go Icelandic with our gift giving. Besides, if you give out books that you'd like to read yourself, you can always borrow them later, eh?

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