Cultural appropriation is a big no-no these days. We are starting to learn to respect each other’s diversity, and try not to turn other people’s sacred things into kitsch as we once were wont to do. But I just came across an Icelandic tradition that involves two of my all-time favorite things: books and chocolate. So appropriate it I will.
It’s called Jólabókaflóð, which means Christmas Book Flood, and it began in Iceland after World War II, when everything was being rationed except paper. So for Christmas, people started giving each other books. Since it’s their tradition to open their gifts on Christmas Eve, it became quite natural for them to spend that evening reading their new books. (I don’t know how the eating chocolate part came into the mix, but I’m sure not complaining.)
What a delightful idea. And the best part is that I’ve gotten Iceland’s seal of approval to steal this tradition. As a matter of fact, they encourage it. They are spreading the word about Jólabókaflóð to people all over the world, to inspire reading. According to NPR, Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country, most of which are sold from September to November, hence the literary flood.
I must admit that I am telling you about this for two reasons. First, of course, is that I’d love for you to buy my book. But second, I like the idea that tonight, I won’t be the only person who gets into her jammies, crawls under the covers, and reads to his or her heart’s content, all while eating chocolate, guilt-free, for once.