Embracing the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod this Christmas Eve
The festive feeling is so blissful I had wondered if it could get any better: short days and long dark evenings, log fires burning and candles glowing, seasonal fare such as hot port and mince pies galore, going out in traffic to deplore, Fairytale of New York playing endlessly, Home Alone back on the TV screens, gatherings arranged and gifts underneath the tree, holly and ivy the windowsills adorn, fairy lights and stockings hung with great care, board games dusted off and tactics renewed, late nights followed by indulgent lie-ins, cards through the letter box bringing blessings of peace and prosperity, love and goodwill filling hearts to the brim, what more could one want?
And then I heard of the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod (phonetic: yo-la-bok-a-flot) which translates loosely to a ‘Yule Book Flood’. Essentially, Jolabokaflod is the really simple time-honored exchange of books that takes place in living-rooms across Iceland (a country with a 99% literacy rate) on Christmas Eve followed by time spent that evening sitting around together reading. That’s it!
Count me in!
I am the easiest of converts; I always include books as gifts and usually receive a few as others know I value the gift of reading and cherish books more than any other gifts. I read in the evening, every evening, and Christmas Eve is no exception here, but what will be different this year is that I will be reading in the company of my family who will also be reading, pressing pause on all other activities for a couple of quite hours together. I am so sure we need this and am looking forward with excitement to that precious time together.
My Christmas wish is that Jolabokaflod spreads in popularity as something that enriches the experience of Christmas. I encourage others to adopt this tradition into their own homes with enthusiasm for the benefits of reading are many but at this time of year when the preparations can leave you losing sight of the spirit of the season sitting back, putting your feet up, getting lost in a good book, and feeling a companionable silence with those around you can be a soothing balm to the soul and time in the presence of those you love most of all in this world the greatest present of all.
This Christmas Eve enjoy Jolabokaflod!
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