Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bookish Holiday Traditions

The holidays are the time for sharing, for caring, and—yes—for reading! Seriously, what's better than curling up with a blanket, a mug of your hot beverage of choice, and a lovely book (perhaps one that Santa brought) while it's snowing outside? I can't think of much.

The holidays are also the time for traditions, and we want to hear about yours! Specifically, what are your bookish holiday traditions? I personally don't have any, and I'd really like to start one...or more!

My husband, for example, always read The Night Before Christmas aloud with his parents on Christmas Eve when he was growing up, each reading a portion of the story in turn. (This is a lovely tradition, but I'm glad I haven't yet been wrangled into participating because the only thing I hate more than listening to people read aloud while trying to follow along in the text is reading aloud myself. Sorry, honey.)

Another delightful tradition that always makes the rounds on social media this time of year is Iceland's jólabókaflóð, or "Christmas Book Flood." Icelanders traditionally give and receive books on Christmas Eve, and spend the rest of the evening enjoying their new treasures. This is something I'd love to have as a tradition someday, but most of my family members probably wouldn't be interested, unfortunately. (Maybe when my husband and I have kids and start spending holidays in our own home rather than traveling, we can start enforcing this tradition!)

Something I would love to start, but would be difficult to make an in-person tradition since we move so much, is a holiday book-swap. Set a date and time for people to bring, say, five books they love (their own copies or new copies) to share with others. Everyone gets to sit and hang out and drink wine and eat snacks and then, at a specified time, you can go decide which books you want to take home.

As I'm thinking this through, I'm considering two options: 1) you bring (for example) 5 books, but you can only take home 3, and all the extra books are donated, or 2) you bring however many you want, but you can only take home the same number you bring. This might be tough to enforce, though—maybe you'd get a different colored bracelet depending on how many books you brought, or a badge, or a punch card. Hmmm. Any ideas?

Of course, I'd also love to start the tradition where people stop saying "but what else?" when I tell them that I want books for Christmas, but...

What are your bookish holiday traditions? What traditions do you want to start?


  1. I love the sound of the Icelandic 'Christmas Book Flood' tradition, it'd be great if my family started doing that but I think unfortunately no one in my family would want to do it either! Apparently they can't sit and read a book for longer than an hour without getting bored, strange people. My only bookish tradition would be reorganising bookshelves - this is out of necessity more than anything else, because otherwise I can't fit all my new books in - and it usually takes me half the day :)

    1. This is awesome! I really should do that every year (or maybe a couple times a year...I buy too many books) but usually it ends up happening only when we move (which we do pretty often since my husband is Army). I think I might try to start that tradition on my own!

  2. When I was young, every Christmas season I read A Christmas Carol, this really morbid Victorian picture book called The Bird's Christmas Carol, and the St. Luke nativity scene. I don't go to church anymore, but I still love the language of that.

    Now we do a book advent calendar, meaning I wrap a bunch of holiday/winter books and each night the kids open one to read together. Only we're not super organized people, so it's more like we skip three nights, then read a bunch at once. It's still nice.

    I have a group of friends that sometimes will exchange books off our own shelves. We've done it different ways: drawing names and finding a book for that person, white elephant style where you unwrap a random book but then can swap it for another, etc. One of the woman in the group does this with her own family too--she and her parents and brother all give each other books from their own shelves.

  3. I really love the idea of a holiday book swap. If I had enough friends close by that were interested in reading then that's something that I would definitely try.

  4. Last year I started a new tradition for me to read one story a night leading up to Christmas in Stephanie Perkins' "My True Love Gave to Me" anthology.

    I also read tons of other holiday/winter books around December-January. My sister (the nonreader) and I both read Sharon Krum's "The Thing About Jane Spring" each winter. It's the perfect book. :)

  5. I love the book exchange idea! :)


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