The Suitcase Lady


December 19, 2017, 12:36 pm

Iceland sits in the North Atlantic with its northernmost island in the Arctic circle and its nearest neighbor Greenland 752 miles away. Currently, the daylight hours are down to five. Nevertheless, Iceland would be a wonderful place to be for Christmas.

The Northern Lights put on spectacular shows and the famous and affordable geothermal energy keeps everyone warm and brightly lighted. Plus, the 334,252 Icelanders, most of whom have Viking heritage, have delightful Christmas traditions… 13 Santas.

Known as the Yule Lads, these mythical characters are said to be the descendants of Grýla the Ogre and each is up to mischief. They are said to come down from their mountain home one each day starting on December 12 until Christmas. Their names reflect their tricks- Sausage Swiper, Spoon Licker, Candle Beggar, Door Sniffer and so on. Today, December 19, will see the arrival of Skyrgamur or Yogurt Gobbler. Better hide your yogurt.

Since I am a book lover, my favorite Icelandic holiday tradition is Jolabokaflod or the Christmas book flood. Iceland is a nation of readers and publishes more books per capita than any other nation in the world. Five titles are published for every 1,000 Icelanders. Most new books are released from late September until early November.

The Christmas season begins when the Icelandic Publishers Association mails a free catalogue of EVERY new book published to EVERY household in the nation. Then this literary population heads out to the numerous bookstores to buy books as presents. And they are not cheap; a hardcover novel costs about $50.00.

On Christmas Eve the books are exchanged as presents and everyone snuggles up and starts reading them. I may need to apply for citizenship.

3 Comments for this entry

  • Liz Levins

    I’m guessing reading material is pretty important in a place where it’s so cold and dark for much of the year. Also, given that they have their own language which virtually no one else in the world speaks, publishing takes on additional importance.

  • Alyce Weiss

    Iceland sounds pretty inviting. It has always been on my list of places to visit.

  • eve robillard

    so very inspiring!