By Tiffani Stewart
St. Charles City-County Library
Have you ever been curious about what it would be like to travel to a Nordic coastal country? If you had the chance to visit Norway, Finland, or Denmark, what would you do when you arrived? Maybe you would hike lava fields? Ford glacial rivers? Eat lots of fish?
If I had the chance to go north, there is a particular place I would like to visit. Although I would certainly enjoy the activities that many Nordic countries offer, Iceland has a tradition that I truly want to experience…and it’s happening this month. Jolabokaflod, or the “Christmas Book Flood” happens every year in Iceland on December 24th, and it is my dream come true!
First, some background. As you know, the United States has a hot new holiday gift nearly every year. Remember Chatty Cathy? Cabbage Patch Kids? Tickle-Me-Elmo? While our tastes change from year to year, the residents of Iceland look forward to the same Christmas gift every year - a book.
In the NPR article, “Literary Iceland Revels in its Annual ‘Christmas Book Flood’” (2012) author Jordan Teicher explains that Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other country in the world. The Reykjavik City Library loaned 1.2 million items in 2009 to a city of 200,000 people. There’s a popular T.V. show in Iceland dedicated to books. And in 2011, Reykjavik was designated a UNESCO City of Literature. Iceland loves books.
So it comes as no surprise then, that the most popular gifts during the holiday season are books. But book-giving is not all that happens during Jolabokaflod. After unwrapping their books on Christmas Eve, the rest of the night is dedicated to chocolate and reading. CHOCOLATE AND READING. That’s right, after presents, everyone drinks hot chocolate and heads to bed to read for the rest of the night.
So as much as we all love cooking a giant dinner, opening gifts, bundling into the car to drive around to spectacular light displays in the neighborhood, wrapping gifts, assembling toys with bleary eyes, and all of the other Christmas Eve traditions in which many of us have participated throughout the years, a “Christmas Book Flood” might be worth the price of a plane ticket to Iceland.
Or better yet, let’s start the tradition in Missouri…for free. If we all visit the library a few days before Christmas to stock up, we can recreate Jolabokaflod this year, right here! I’m ready for my silent night. How about you?
While you’re browsing for your holiday reads this month, stop in for one of these events at the Boone’s Trail Branch or Augusta Branch Libraries.
• Candlelight Christmas Walk (Augusta), Fri., Dec. 7th and Fri., Dec. 14th, 5:00-8:00 p.m. Start a Christmas tradition in the historic town of Augusta. Walk streets covered in luminaries to visit shops and local artisans. Be sure to stop by the library for hot cider and cookies.
• Santa Visits the Library* (Boone’s Trail), Tues., Dec. 18th, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Santa is coming to the library! Enjoy a story, songs, candy canes, and a chat with Santa. Parents, bring your cameras to capture the magic of this Christmas visit.
• DIY Gift Tags (Augusta), Dec. 4th, 6th, and 8th. Drop in during open hours. Create festive, personalized gift tags for the holiday season.
• Augusta Book Discussion* (Augusta), Mon., Dec. 17th, 2:00 p.m.
Read and discuss Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, historical fiction set during World War II.
• New Melle Nonfiction Book Discussion Group*(Boone’s Trail), Thurs., Dec. 20th, 10:00 a.m.
We’re branching out! Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan is an award-winning children’s novel. You’ll be impressed with the beautiful language and compelling story. Join us to discuss this one!
• It’s a Wonderful Life (Augusta), Thurs., Dec. 20th, 5:00 p.m. Wear your favorite ugly sweater, sip hot chocolate, and celebrate the 1946 premiere of this classic holiday movie…by watching it again at the library.
• Coffee at the Library (Augusta), Thursdays at 9:00 a.m. Come in for a hot cup of coffee and great conversation.
• Hand and Foot Canasta* (Boone’s Trail), Thursdays at 1:00 p.m. Join us to play this fast-paced rummy game. Beginners welcome! Please register.
• Yarn Arts (Augusta), Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. The Augusta Yarn Arts group meets every Thursday to create, share, and chat.
• Holiday Paper Crafting (Augusta), Dec. 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 6th. Drop in during open hours. Make and take origami ornaments and unique cut snowflakes. Open to school age children.
• Discovery Kids: Snow* (Boone’s Trail), Dec. 3rd, 5:00 p.m. Read chilly stories, then create your own snow!
• Story Time (Augusta), , Dec. 10th, 3:00 p.m. Find out what these snowmen have been doing, then make a sock snowman to take home.
• Story Time (Boone’s Trail), , Dec. 13th and Thurs., Dec. 27th, 10:30 a.m. Stories, songs, and crafts to enhance early literacy. Story time is open to children ages 3-6.
• Wright Brothers Day (Augusta), Dec. 17th. Drop in during open hours. Celebrate flight by engineering your own paper airplane and learning about the Wright brothers. Open to school age children.
• Club Read: Hatchet* (Boone’s Trail), Mon., Dec. 17th, 6:00 p.m. Read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, then join us for Club Read, open to grades 4-8. We’ll talk over drinks and snacks about the survival skills of the book’s main character. Bring a friend!
*Register at www.youranswerplace.org or call Boone’s Trail at 636-398-6200 or Augusta at 636-228-4855.
The Boone’s Trail and Augusta branches are open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. and Saturday, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 noon.
**All library branches are closed on Dec. 24, Dec. 25, and Jan 1.**