15 December 2017

Jólabókaflóð - the Icelandic Christmas book flood

With around 330.000 inhabitants, Iceland is certainly one of the smallest book markets in the world. Nevertheless, it boosts one of the highest rates of books per capita (3.5 books every 1,000 inhabitants!) and Icelanders are famous to be a nation of bookworms. According to a study conducted by Bifröst University in 2013, 50% of them read at least 8 books per year, while an impressive 93% of them read at least one. What is more, according to BBC Magazine, one in ten Icelanders will publish a book in their life!..

Jólabókaflóð refers to the Icelandic tradition of publishing the majority of new books during the weeks before Christmas. I guess this tradition can be traced back to when the variety of goods available in Iceland was very limited and therefore opting for a book as a Christmas present was a good bet...

In 2014, each Icelander bought on average 2.1 books as Christmas presents, and received 1.2 books as a gift!..

555 monthly salaries are paid every year to authors of fiction/children’s literature from the government through the Icelandic Artists’ Salaries.
Image cropped for size from the original at Jolabokaflod, where it is noted that "During the festive season, gifts are opened on 24 December and, by tradition, everyone reads the books they have been given straight away, often while drinking hot chocolate or alcohol-free Christmas ale called jólabland."

1 comment:

  1. In Finland, too, we have our Christmas dinner on the evening of the 24th, after which we open the presents. I believe historically the eve is the festive night because Christmas Day was for going to church and quietly contemplating Jesus. These days (at least in many middle class families) it's for lying around eating chocolates and, like the Icelanders, reading books one got, or in the case of kids, building the Lego sets one got.


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