This Christmas I decided to take on an Icelandic Christmas tradition of giving a book as a present on Christmas Eve. Im not sure how I came across this idea but I thought it was rather a good one, and especially with Christmas 2020 having a ‘Covid Cloud’ hovering above it and everyone having to stay in, I thought it would be something a bit different.
The custom of giving books at Christmas in Iceland is called ‘Jolabokaflod’ or ‘Jólabókaflóð’ which translates as ‘Christmas flood of books’! Apparently It started during WWII when books weren’t rationed and many other things were, so books made really good gifts. On Christmas Eve many people in Iceland will open a new book as a gift, and read it with a cup of hot chocolate or Jolabland (an Icelandic drink made of fizzy orange soda and brown ale/beer). I’m not sure if my family read their books with a cup of hot chocolate (possibly with a beer!) but I do know they appreciated their gift. Maybe I will pop a sachet of hot chocolate in with the book next year as I really think that it’s rather a cosy Christmas tradition to continue.
Reading is such a great pastime. ‘ Just 30 minutes of reading a week increases health and wellbeing. Reading for pleasure has been found to improve our confidence and self-esteem, providing the grounding we need to pursue our goals and make life decisions. It can also aid our sleep and reduce feelings of loneliness.’ Studies also show that it can increase our emotional intelligence and help us to be more empathetic. Plenty of good reasons to take part in Jolabokaflod at Christmas, but I would be happy with the gift of a book at any time of the year.
Here are the books that my family received as I ‘jolabokafloded’ them on Christmas Eve.
ITS NONNA THURSDAY! (Alison Fielding)
Arlo loves books and being read too. He even sits on his potty with a book and has been know to still be there 45 minutes later with an array of books by his side! I thought I would fill a little book with photos and text of our Nonna Thursday fun to remind him during a time when ‘Nonna thursdays’ have been put on the back burner due to ‘Covid’. He seemed to be quite bemused with pictures of himself in a book.
THE LOST WORDS. (Jackie Morris)
Mum and Dad (Jordan and Ruth) were given this lovely book of ‘Spells’ by Jackie Morris. I was initially put off by the word ‘spells’ but it is actually just a collection of rhymes about countryside words that are beginning to get lost. Words that are falling out of fashion. Acorn, Fern, Bluebell and Wren are among some of the words that are being conjoured back up through rhymes and beautiful illustrations. I thought it would be a lovely book to have, and one that they can also read and look through with Arlo as they encourage him to appreciate the beauty of the natural world around him. On the day I bought it I had one of those lovely coincidetal moments when later that day I opened the pages of a magazine to find that the first article I came across was a review of the book. I love it when things like that happen.
THE BOOK YOU WISH YOUR PARENTS HAD READ (and Your Children Will be Glad That You Did) (Philippa Perry)
Mum and Dad ‘to be’ (Kevin and Shona) were given this book that I had often thought of buying, and after sneeking a peek at the first few pages I ordered a copy for myself too. I guess its never too late to learn and there is some great advice in it, not just for parents to be but for good solid communication in relationships in general. I really wish I had read it a long time ago but am enjoying and benefitting from the read now. It looks at how our own upbringing may affect our parenting and how to break negative patterns and cycles. It encourages the parent to see their baby or child as a person who is worthy of being heard, listened to and cared for in a mindful and respectful way. So often as parents we can be so caught up in our own issues that we dont make time to really listen to what is going on for a child that we think is playing up or misbehaving. We can often be taken up with our own minds dialogue of memories connected to our own childhood that we miss what our baby or child really needs. Its a really easy book to read but is packed full of thought provoking advice that (although I don’t think I did a bad job) I wish I had been more aware of when raising my own children.
Well thats a small peek into Christmas Eve in our part of the world. Im pretty sure that you all enjoy a good book, do you think you might join in with a little ‘Jolabokaflod’ of your own next year? Dont forget the sachet of Hot Chocolate if you do.
I hope you all had a lovely if quieter than usual Christmas 2020, and would like to wish you all a really Happy and healthy New year.
Love Alison x