Nov 25, 2023

A Gift Of BooksThis Christmas Eve


There is a space in most households where a quiet hush descends on Christmas Eve. As the world settles into a serene stillness, there exists a tradition in Iceland that adds a touch of literary magic to the festivities. Jólabókaflóð, or the Christmas Book Flood, is more than a tradition; it's a celebration of literature, warmth, and self-care.

Picture this: a cozy evening, a steaming cup of cocoa cradled in your hands, and a stack of carefully wrapped books waiting to be opened into a world of imagination. It's a moment of anticipation, of joy, and it's a tradition that women over 45 should wholeheartedly embrace.

In this post, we give you the keys needed to create a new tradition, one that all families of all ages can participate in.

The Essence of Jólabókaflóð

To truly appreciate the magic of Jólabókaflóð, let's journey back to its roots, deep within the heart of Icelandic culture. Originating in the Second World War, when paper was one of the few commodities not rationed, Jólabókaflóð has an enchanting history that echoes the resilience and creativity of the Icelandic people during challenging times.

As the war subsided, Iceland found itself with a surplus of paper. In 1944, when the country gained independence from Denmark, the government encouraged the publication of books as a way to strengthen national identity. This laid the foundation for what would become the beloved tradition of Jólabókaflóð.

The tradition truly took flight in the 1950s when book publishers began releasing their new titles in the months leading up to Christmas. This deliberate timing allowed Icelanders to exchange books as gifts during the holiday season. The concept caught on swiftly, and the act of giving and receiving books on Christmas Eve became a cherished practice that extended beyond familial circles to include friends, colleagues, and even neighbors.

Jólabókaflóð is more than just an exchange of books; it's a celebration of the enduring power of literature. It embodies the Icelandic spirit of resilience, creativity, and a deep appreciation for the written word. Each book exchanged carries not only a personal touch but also the weight of this historical context, making it a gift that transcends the pages within.

The essence of Jólabókaflóð, therefore, extends beyond the act of gifting and receiving. It encapsulates a communal acknowledgment of the importance of literature in shaping cultural identity and fostering connections. In the shared joy of giving a carefully selected book, there's an unspoken understanding—a recognition of the profound impact that stories, whether fictional or factual, can have on our lives.

Jólabókaflóð is a beautiful tapestry woven from the threads of history, culture, and a deep love for storytelling. It's a tradition that beckons us to not only cherish the books themselves but to embrace the cultural legacy they represent. As we unwrap each book on Christmas Eve, we unwrap a piece of Icelandic history, a story within a story that adds layers of meaning to this enchanting tradition.

Practical Tips for Embracing Jólabókaflóð

By incorporating the simple steps below, you will not only make Jólabókaflóð an annual tradition in your home but also infuse it with personalized touches that elevate the experience. As you gather in your cozy reading nook, unwrapping books with shared anticipation, you're creating lasting memories and fostering a love for literature that transcends the holiday season. Enjoy the warmth, the stories, and the joy that Jólabókaflóð brings to your Christmas Eve celebration.

Personalize Your Book Selections

Consider the tastes and preferences of each recipient when selecting books. Ensure that each chosen volume is a personalized and meaningful choice, tailored to the individual's interests. Whether it's a captivating novel, an insightful memoir, or a beautifully illustrated coffee table book, the thoughtfulness behind each selection enhances the gift-giving experience.

Consider buying your books at a local store where you can spend some time browsing the shelves or asking for advice. Not only are you beginning your Jólabókaflóð tradition by taking your time, but you are also supporting local businesses.

Set the Stage for Coziness

Transform your home into the perfect haven for Jólabókaflóð with a touch of thoughtful preparation. By now, your Christmas tree is adorned, and preparations for the big day are complete. Enhance the ambiance with soft candlelight, the nostalgic scent of pine, and the comforting crackle of a fireplace.

Curate Your Cozy Reading Nook

Craft a dedicated space for the Jólabókaflóð festivities. Arrange soft blankets and pillows to fashion a cozy reading nook where each family member can unwind and enjoy their chosen books. The goal is to create an atmosphere of comfort and relaxation, setting the stage for a delightful evening of literary celebration.

Unwrap with Ceremony

Bring an extra layer of anticipation to the tradition by dedicating time to unwrap each book with a sense of ceremony. This simple act turns the unwrapping process into a shared experience, fostering a connection among family members. As each book is revealed, the excitement builds, and the anticipation adds to the overall joy of the occasion.

Embrace the Escape

As the warm, cocoon-like atmosphere envelops your space, relish the quiet excitement that builds when you gaze upon a stack of beautifully wrapped books. Recognize that each book holds the promise of a new adventure, a fresh perspective, and a moment of escape. Embracing this escape, especially on Christmas Eve, sets the mood for the celebrations ahead. It's a collective journey into the world of literature, a shared experience that adds depth to your festive traditions.

The Perfect Hot Chocolate

This rich and creamy hot chocolate is the perfect companion for a festive evening of literary indulgence. Adjust the ingredients to suit your taste preferences, and feel free to get creative with additional toppings or flavorings. Enjoy your Jólabókaflóð celebration to the fullest!


- 2 cups whole milk

- 1/2 cup heavy cream

- 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

- 1/2 cup high-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped

- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (adjust to taste)

- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

- A pinch of salt

Optional Toppings

- Whipped cream

- Chocolate shavings

- Cinnamon powder


1. Combine Ingredients: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the whole milk, heavy cream, and sweetened condensed milk. Stir until the mixture is warmed but not boiling.

2. Melt Chocolate: Add the finely chopped dark chocolate to the milk mixture. Stir continuously until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.

3. Add Cocoa and Sugar: Whisk in the unsweetened cocoa powder and granulated sugar. Continue to whisk until the cocoa is fully incorporated and the mixture is well combined.

4. Infuse with Vanilla: Stir in the pure vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. This enhances the flavor profile of the hot chocolate.

5. Simmer and Serve: Allow the hot chocolate to simmer for a few more minutes, ensuring it's heated through but not boiling. Taste and adjust the sweetness if needed.

6. Strain (Optional): For an extra smooth texture, you can strain the hot chocolate through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any undissolved cocoa particles.

7. Serve and Garnish: Pour the hot chocolate into mugs and garnish with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, or a sprinkle of cinnamon if desired.

Why Women Over 45 Should Embrace Jólabókaflóð

For women navigating the complexities of midlife, embracing Jólabókaflóð becomes more than a tradition; it becomes an act of self-love and care. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it's easy to lose oneself in the needs of others. Yet, this tradition offers a beautiful reminder that self-gifting is not only permissible but essential.

Books possess a unique ability to be both an escape and a mirror. For women over 45, they become companions in the journey of self-discovery and reflection. Whether it's finding solace in a well-written novel, gaining wisdom from motivational literature, or simply enjoying a humorous memoir, books have the power to uplift, inspire, and provide a sense of connection.

Take a look at the Sensibly Selfish book post, where over 50 titles are recommended for women over 45. What have you read? What excites you? Do you have a preference you would like to share in the comments below?

The Sensibly Selfish Gift

As the Christmas Eve candles flicker and the warmth of the books envelopes you, remember that Jólabókaflóð is not just a tradition—it's a gift to yourself. In the quiet moments of reading, you'll find a sanctuary, a space to reflect, and a source of joy that extends beyond the holiday season. Embrace this Icelandic tradition, and let the Christmas Book Flood become a cherished part of your annual celebration, a reminder that amidst the holiday chaos, there's always room for the gift of a good book and the gift of self-care. Why not share your book choices in the secret Sensibly Selfish Facebook Group?