I’m dying over the idea of the Jólabókaflóð, the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve and then all retreating to your separate couches with your books and hot chocolate and not talking to each other (I assume). We have way too many family obligations to ever make this fly, but I do have an enormous pile of wrapped books and cozy socks to give to my children on the first day of school break, because I can imagine nothing better as a child than days of unstructured free time and a pile of new books. It’ll be our own little Jólabókaflóð!
You could spread that flood out and make a bookish advent calendar for all of December, or just the twelve days of Christmas, or the eight days of Hanukkah. Or give a book every year on St Nicholas Day! YOU get a book, and YOU get a book.
Speaking of advent calendars, you should be reading this carefully curated advent calendar of short stories, essays, and poems (starting Dec 1).
Straight-up literally read The Night Before Christmas on the night before Christmas. Or ditto but for Hanukkah with The Night Before Hanukkah! Other December holidays are still waiting on someone to adorably illustrate in rhyme what happens on them, so…get on it, authors.
Read a book featuring a holiday-specific food and then make that food! I highly recommend The Latke Who Wouldn’t Stop Screaming but you have to really commit to the screaming.
Watch some festive holiday adaptations! The Muppet’s Christmas Carol, e.g. Or How the Grinch Stole Christmas (but Miss Me With That Jim Carey Nonsense). My parents like to re-watch all of the Harry Potter movies in December because they find them generally festive, but if you are not a pair of adorable semi-retirees, you can watch all the holiday scenes in a fraction of the time.
A lot of parents find that gift-giving to their children gets out of hand, so it’s helpful to curtail gifts to something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something (or somethingsssssss, I don’t care, go nuts on this part) to READ.
And then you can always take your holiday bonus and any cash gifts and blow them at the book store on Boxing Day.
What sort of bookish holiday traditions do you celebrate?