Have you heard of Jolabokaflod? It’s pronounced yo-la-bok-a-flot and it roughly translates to ‘the Christmas book flood’.
It is an Icelandic tradition where family and friends give each other a brand new book for Christmas and then get cosy in their favourite reading spot with a special mug of hot cocoa or chocolate and spend the rest of the night reading. As book lovers, it sounds absolutely perfect to us.
Some sources suggest that it started during World World 2, once Iceland had gained independence, and when paper was actually not rationed in Iceland, meaning that books were still easy to purchase and enjoy. It has developed into a culture where the gift of a new book at Christmas is a major signal that the holiday season has started.
Most of us enjoy giving gifts and we know of the many health and wellbeing benefits which arise from reading and from spending time with others. Indulging in some chocolate actually has some health benefits too! It’s a lovely tradition for families to start, and people who spend Christmas Eve alone are also encouraged to enjoy Jolabokaflod with a new book. You could substitute the hot cup of cocoa for an iced chocolate if it’s a hot December evening here in Australia.
A new book is traditionally given in Iceland, but you don’t have to strictly follow this rule. Browse the shelves of your local op-shop to give a book a second life, or select a book from your own bookshelf to gift to a loved one. You can even borrow a book from your local library – just make sure you let the recipient know it’s not to keep and return it by the due date!
Do you have a unique Christmas tradition in your house? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below. If you don’t, have a think about you could introduce one to your Christmas celebrations. Here are a few ideas:
- Donate to the local food bank
- Donate some old toys
- Organise a Secret Santa with your workmates
- Bake something yummy and drop it off to a neighbour who might be lonely during the Christmas season.
We’re hosting a Jolabokaflod book swap at our Warragul branch during December. Find out more here.
We are reading – Wild Horses of the Summer Sun
What if you could steal time out just for yourself each year, a brief reprieve from ordinary life and its responsibilities? Wild Horses of the Summer Sun is author Tory Bilski’s witty, sometimes poignant, account of her annual ‘horse sabbaticals’ to Iceland.
We are listening to – Meditations for Stressful Situations
Christmas can be an anxious time for many people. ‘Meditations for Stressful Situations’ offers a series of meditations designed to take those moments in life that seem unbearably stressful, and gives you the calmness and peace of mind to take control of the situation, and of yourself. This title is available on BorrowBox as an e-audiobook or through your local library in audiobook format.
December Dates –
- Decembeard or Decembhair (Bowel Cancer Australia) – 1st to 31st December
- International Day of Persons with Disability – 3rd December
- Human Rights Day – 10th December
The opinions and recommendations in this blog do not replace advice from your doctor or mental health practitioner. If you feel like you need further support, you can access many free mental health helplines, support websites, online counselling, web forums, interactive toolkits, one-on-one counselling and group therapy sessions. Please visit the Better Health website for a comprehensive list of services.
Mental Wellbeing at MYLI
The Healthier Habits blog is adapted from the Myli – My Community Library employee ‘Page Break’ program. Page Break is an initiative from our Manager Volunteers & Community Participation, Kathie Olden. Kathie sends out regular updates to staff inviting them to participate in simple activities and conversation starters that focus on making small changes to their mental health and wellbeing.