Book Traditions Around The World

Book Traditions Around The World

Read this post to find out more about book traditions around the world at Christmas time.

While there are many blogs, articles and social media posts that bemoan closing libraries, deflating bookshops, and the seemingly general disinclination of people to read books anymore, there are also some wonderful book traditions that keep the flame alive.

Books can bring people together. Just look at all the Jane Austen fan sites on Facebook! Books build communities – families that read are families that put down roots and grow their own traditions. Wild, stormy nights huddled together on the sofa listening to audio books and sipping hot chocolate spring to mind. There are some countries that know the value and power of books and have developed national traditions to ensure that the love of books is entrenched within their society.

5 Countries With Great Book Traditions

1. Italy’s Book Fairies

This is a fairly new tradition. It’s a project called The Book Fairies! It began in a city known for its creativity – Milan. Each book that is adopted by the Fairies, has a Book Fairies sticker on the cover. This shows that the book is freely available to anyone who wants it. The concept is that once you’ve read the book, leave it where someone else can find it. When they have finished reading it, they will do the same. One book can pass through the hands of a thousand readers. What’s the difference between this and a library? Someone who has never visited a library may pick up the book, be intrigued and start reading. And voilà, another book lover is created.

2. Iceland LOVES Books

Iceland gained its independence from Denmark in 1944 during the second World War. Icelanders had always loved books, and as paper had not been rationed during the war, gift giving became centred around books. In mid-November, during the Reykjavik Book Fair, the Icelandic book trade published a catalogue of books, the Bókatíôindi, that people could order books from and sent it to every household in the country. The tradition, known as the Jólabókaflóðið was born. Most new titles are printed during this period in Iceland. On 24 December, the gifts are opened, and everyone curls up under thick blankets in front of the fire, sipping hot chocolate, reading their new books!

3. Sweden – A Week Long Official Book Reading Holiday

I know, right? Time to move to Sweden! Getting into reading, according to the Swedes, is a bit like trying to find your way into a badger’s home. There are so many entrances, so may options. And if you think about it, that’s the perfect description. What book, if you can remember, was the first one that you read in which you lost yourself? What books dominated your childhood? As a nation, Sweden understands the importance of reading. That’s why they’ve dedicated an entire week to a ‘reading holiday’. It’s called Läsloy. Anyone who has any connection to books or culture, from libraries to illustrators, bookshops to publishers, audio-book narrators and writers, to museums hold bookish events. The Swedish Literature Bank makes the majority of Swedish classics available digitally for free. Even MacDonalds puts books in their Happy Meals during this week! Each year, there’s a different theme. 

4. The USA

While many Americans, at the moment, do seem to be more interested in banning books than actually reading them, there is one tradition that seems to endure. You may not have ever read the book, but I will lay even money you can quote the opening stanza of the poem!

“‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse;” 

Or this part?

“Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!”

Reading aloud the poetic book, The Night Before Christmas by Christopher Clement Moore is part of the tradition of the Christmas season in the USA.

5. The UK

Actually, this has less to do with the UK and rather more to do with the book itself. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. So enduring is this story that there are over 135 versions of it. It has been adapted to the large and small screen, 14 times, in versions closer to the original text than the other 135 versions. There’s even been a Muppet Christmas Carol. Actor Dan Stevens played Dickens in the 2017 film version of The Man Who Invented Christmas. It was released in November of that year – just in time for Christmas. The tradition – release yet another version or adaptation of the book at Christmas. It’s bound to be a success as it’s a familiar tale that everyone enjoys!

What is your book tradition? Do you have one specifically over the festive season? If not, perhaps it’s a good time to start one!

The Last Word

If you have always wanted to learn how to write a book, give yourself a great Christmas present and sign up for a course with Writers Write It’s the perfect place to learn.

Elaine Dodge

by Elaine Dodge. Elaine is the author of The Harcourts of Canada series. Elaine trained as a graphic designer, then worked in design, advertising, and broadcast television. She now creates content, mostly in written form, for clients across the globe, but would much rather be drafting her books and short stories.

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Posted on: 19th December 2022