Iceland gives books on Christmas Eve, maybe we should too.


Jolabokaflod (Jólabókaflóðið), which translates to “Christmas Book Flood,” is an Iceland tradition dating back to WWII that involves the exchange of books as presents on Christmas eve. In this tradition, books are given to family and friends on the 24th so that they spend the night of the 24th reading.

“Normally, we give the presents on the night of the 24th and people spend the night reading,” says Kristjan B. Jonasson, president of the Iceland Publishers Association. “The culture of giving books as presents is very deeply rooted in how families perceive Christmas as a holiday. In many ways, it’s the backbone of the publishing sector here in Iceland.”

Because jolabokaflod dates back to WWII, when the exchange became a tradition, paper was one of the things not rationed in Iceland, so Icelanders gave books as gifts while other commodities were short in supply.

This early tradition made Icelanders very interested in reading. A 2013 study conducted at Bifröst University showed that 50 percent of Icelanders read more than eight books a year and 93 percent read at least one.

Books are a great gift to give somebody because each one is individual, unique, and unlike any other. Some may be similar, but no two books are exactly alike.

According to teenwire.org, the average teen spends about 7 hours per day on their phones. Books offer something else to do in the time that someone spends on their phone. Instead of spending hours scrolling through the 30 second videos on Tik Tok and the pictures that last two seconds before you scroll on Instagram, reading a book can widen your imagination, help improve your attention span, and prevent eye strain from blue light.

Because this world today is so caught up in technology, it’s very interesting that Iceland’s book exchange tradition hasn’t died down, and Icelanders are still the bookworms they were since World War II. This tradition should spread throughout the world because it will get more people off of their phones and into books once again.

Maybe this world needs more books than scrolls in 2022…