Do you love reading? A lot of us do, but few of us are as famous for it as the people of Iceland.
In addition to its otherworldly volcanic terrain and hot springs, this tiny island nation is famous for its love of books.
Printed pages are a big deal to Icelanders. A recent study ranked them the 3rd most literate nation in the world (behind only Finland and Norway, while the US was 7th and Canada was 11th). Plus, the capital city of Reykjavik was designated as a City of Literature by UNESCO in 2011. (This is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which names important cultural and historical sites around the globe.)
What can we learn from Iceland's success with books? Well, yes, we could just read more books. But we might consider giving those that don't know what to read a little help...or a giant flood.
Jolabokaflod (say: YOH-lah-boh-kah-flohl) means "Yule book flood", or "Christmas book flood". In a way, this Icelandic tradition is pretty much just what it sounds like. (It is also OWLconnected's new favourite holiday word!)
"Yule" is an ancient Germanic word for the Christmas season. Traditionally due to restrictions on imported paper (the country is a remote island, remember), Iceland only published new books once a year, just before Christmas. To showcase this event, a free copy of a catalogue of all of the new books is given to every person in the country. Whoa!
With so many new books to choose from, an excellent tradition began. Every Christmas Eve, Icelanders exchange new books with their loved ones as gifts.
Then, they spend the night reading books that they have received. And that is how you become a UNESCO City of Literature!
So, who's ready to switch up the holidays this year? Say it with me, folks...