Advent 24 – Jólabókaflóð

I hope you’ve enjoyed this “Advent Adventure” – I know that it’s been a joy for me! Over these last few weeks, I’ve done a number of things to help me stay focused on the Really Important Things instead of getting distracted by the shiny tinsel and surface “stuff.” I’ve very much enjoyed trying out so many new ideas to both find the quiet, pondering places within me and to also do more for others this season, even in tiny ways, like leaving a plate of cookies for the mail carrier.

For this final day of Advent, I wanted to share a Christmas Eve tradition that I’ve just discovered, but that I plan to incorporate into my celebrations tonight and going forward.

Personalized “Book Flood” Chocolate!

It seems that Iceland (home of the terrifying “Yule Cat” as well as being a place where traffic plans can be rerouted so as not to disturb the local “wee folk”) found itself in a bit of a gift-giving quandary in WW2, due to widespread shortages and rationing, However, paper was plentiful and cheap. While the population of the country was too small to justify a year-round publishing industry, the market was flooded in the final weeks of the year. To harness that market, the Icelandic Publishers Association started sending a catalog of upcoming titles to every single household in the countryAnd people bought books like crazy. (Maybe not completely surprising, given the fact that Iceland starting recording sagas around 1200 and that today, 1 out of every 10 Icelanders will publish a book at some point of their life.) But around WW2, things went a step further and Jólabókaflóð (which roughly translates into “Yule Book Flood”) was born.

This celebration involves an exchange of books as gifts on Christmas Eve. Then, following a Christmas Eve feast (and the inevitable washing up), everyone takes their new books, along with yummy drinks and chocolates, off to bed where families basically spend the night reading.

Sign me up! (Seriously, this holiday was so incredible that it inspired me to finally pick up a paintbrush again!)

Relish the holidays, however you choose to observe and celebrate them. For me, I’m about to go gather up my cocoa and The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily.

And just because it’s awesome, here’s a ten-minute explanation of Iceland’s horrifying Jólakötturinn (plus, I’m entertained by just about anything that manages to incorporate the term “murder floof”). Enjoy – and be glad you got socks!

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