photolouis: I like Iceland. I especially like their reputation for reading. Here’s what Jules Verne wrote back in 1864:
The conversation turned upon scientific matters, and M. Fridriksson asked my uncle what he thought of the public library.
> “Library, sir?” cried my uncle; “it appears to me a collection of useless odd volumes, and a beggarly amount of empty shelves.”
>“What!” cried M. Fridriksson; “why, we have eight thousand volumes of most rare and valuable works—some in the Scandinavian language, besides all the new publications from Copenhagen.”
>“Eight thousand volumes, my dear sir—why, where are they?” cried my uncle.
>“Scattered over the country, Professor Hardwigg. We are very studious, my dear sir, though we do live in Iceland. Every farmer, every laborer, every fisherman can both read and write—and we think that books instead of being locked up in cupboards, far from the sight of students, should be distributed as widely as possible. The books of our library are therefore passed from hand to hand without returning to the library shelves perhaps for years.”
ThatOneWeirdName: Being Swedish my best guess as to the literal meaning is “Christmas book flood”
pokemon-gangbang: We have a box with a book, New pajamas, and a snack that we give our kids on Christmas eve.
AudibleNod: [1 in 10](http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24399599) Icelanders is a published author.
TooShiftyForYou: While reading their books Icelanders are ever vigilant to stay out of the grasps of the Yule Cat, who eats people that have not yet received new clothes for Christmas.
GBreezy: Me and my brother have a weird war over gift-books. Our family’s rule is you have to read the books given to you as presents. My brother started this tradition by gifting me a book about the Chicago School of Economics. Next thing you know we’ve both read the People’s History of the U.S., Moby Dick, Sarah Palins autobiography, and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
Charlitos_Way: Upvotes for Iceland and books and chocolate but it really does seem like they name things by sneezing sometimes.
TheSaddestGrape: What? No we don’t. “Jólabókaflóð” is like “Christmas Book Flood” or “Christmas Book Frenzy,” which is more or less a marketing term for the mass of new books published every year (Icelandic is a tiny market for books, more or less everyone publishes around Christmas.)
I’m all for shedding positive light on Iceland but unfortunately we get possessed by the same crazy consumerism as every other nation on the Western Hemisphere over the holidays.
I do know a few people who make a point of giving books for Christmas though, if that changes anything.
thokim: On Christmas Eve in Iceland the sun sets at like 2pm, so you could get a book and read it completely by bedtime.
egerkind: Icelander here. This is not true. Jólabókaflóð is just a term for when books flood the market near Christmas. Nobody ever spends Christmas Eve reading, at least nobody I know.
SindriSwanPhoto: While this is a lovely sentiment, I think it’s a bit of an overstatement to call this a tradition. Perhaps some families decide to exchange books, ignore each other and sit in their corners with their chocolates… but I believe it’s much, much more common as an adult to have a Christmas dinner, exchange presents and actually socialize with each other over a glass of something refreshing for the rest of the night.
My impression of Icelandic Christmas holidays is that it tends to be more like a family holiday…
mommarun: What an educational and responsible way to spend the holiday.
SpacecadetBell: I’m totally gonna try to get this going as a tradition.
Snakeoilsage: Sounds like my kind of Christmas.
reconknucktly: I like this, but how do I pronounce this?
Minecraftfinn: We do have a lot of books here, but we do also have a looooooot of really dumb bad books published every year just before this event. Almost every person above the age of 30 that is remotely famous has a book out.
drmoritz: this is not quite right, jolabokaflod is about loads new books being published right before christmas, [wiki about it](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%C3%B3lab%C3%B3kafl%C3%B3%C3%B0)
borcklesner: That is a complete load of shit.
Source: am Icelandic
porterism: This sounds far better than the pressure cooker of debt and high expectations and bastard relatives that I was used to at Christmas
magica12: A whole night of reading and eating chocolate…my kind of night
Sumit316: Another interesting fact is that The Icelandic language remains unchanged from ancient Norse. That means literally 1,000-year-old texts are still easily readable. To add to that there are no surnames or family names in Iceland – Icelanders use the traditional Nordic naming system, which includes a last name that is comprised from their father’s (or mother’s) first name with the addition of -dóttir (-daughter) or -son.
chesterbooboo: Uhhh, perfect Christmas Eve!
bluewolfcub: That literally sounds like the best xmas eve ever
TheRedditzerRebbe: My family calls it Bookmas! 🙂
dragonwhale: Nope. We don’t do that. Never heard anybody talking about this. Never seen anything about this on the telly. It feels like when Iceland hits the front page then it’s some weird ass shit that isnt true. Like, the fact we belief in elves. When it’s like 0.0000000000001% of the country. I wonder how much bullshit i’ve read about traditions from other countries.
jmc123abillion: This is how my wife and I spend Valentine’s Day! Go to a book store, each pick out a book the other buys, then eat pastries, drink coffee, and read.
MightyMiami: Can we get the phonetics on this? I want to make sure I’m not saying an Icelandic curse word when I tell me kids.