Unique Xmas celebrations: Iceland, its jólabókaflóð and its high literacy rate

During this time bookstores across Iceland host Icelandic authors of all genres who read from and promote their latest work, transforming the holiday season into a literary festival.

Icelanders exchange books on Christmas Eve and then spend the remainder of the evening reading at home.

How the Christmas Book Flood came about

During World War II imports to Iceland were severely restricted. Icelanders also didn’t have the correct currency to buy foreign products. This limited their gift-giving options around Christmastime.

As these limitations did not affect the local book market, the tradition of exchanging books developed.

With Iceland’s small  population of just over 330,000 people, its publishing industry has lacked the resources to publish and distribute new books all year round, making the Book Flood a practical marketing strategy as well as a treasured tradition.

Over the last few years, hundreds of bookstores and literary circles have been established all over the country.

Icelanders read more books per capita than any other nation in the world.

It is no surprise then that this book-loving island nation has a very high literacy rate as a result of integrating literature and reading into their cultural identity.

Caxton Central

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