HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The holiday season is here, and that means it’s time to start shopping, buying and wrapping gifts for your friends and family. For families in Iceland, the coming of Christmas also means preparing for the annual Jolabokaflod (pronounced, yo-la-bok-a-flot.)

Jolabokaflod, or Christmas (or Yule) book flood, is a yearly tradition that focuses on the release of new books before Christmas. The books are wrapped and gifted on Christmas Eve, and everyone reads what they were given while drinking hot chocolate or the non-alcoholic holiday ale, jólabland.

While having roots that date back to the 8th century, the tradition of Jolabokaflod officially began in 1944, when paper was one of the only resources not rationed in Iceland. Wartime restrictions on products were far more lenient for paper products, so books were published in abundance, and they made perfect Christmas gifts! Now the celebration focuses on the release of new books a the tail end of the year. It is usual that the hardback covers will be released during the holiday, and that paperback books won’t be out until the new year.

Back in the states, we prepare for Christmas by buying armloads of gifts and baking our family’s favorite desserts. Lots of small businesses in the area are also preparing for the busiest season of the year. Including bookstores!

Lady Smith is the owner and operator of the Snail on the Wall, an independent bookstore without a store, as their website says. Smith said that she had discovered the book flood in the last few years, and it’s something she enjoys.

“It’s something that a lot of bookstores celebrate and promote around the country, and I’m in a network with a lot of other bookstores. I am a member of the American Booksellers Association and we trade ideas.”

For Smith and Snail on the Wall, this time of year is exciting since they can host their month-long pop-up shop.

“We are always excited to have our month-long pop-up because we get to meet people in person that we’ve been delivering to all year long… here, they get to come in and we get to have conversations about books. So that’s really fun,” she said. “We just try to take orders and get books in peoples’ hands however they want them. So, we are shipping across the country, I actually did a shipment to Australia [yesterday].”

Amidst all the fun, however, small business owners also have a lot at stake when it comes to the holiday season. Amber Oberle, the owner of Booklegger Used Books in Huntsville, said that for her, the holiday season is hard. She said that due to her being the owner and primary employee if she wants to take time off for the holiday, she has to close the store.

“This is hard because normally more sales are made during the holiday season so I have to find the balance between being open and celebrating holidays with my family.”

Smith said she’s looking forward to some cozy reads, and even left some suggestions:

  • “Remarkably Bright Creatures” – Shelby Van Pelt
  • “A Shoe Story” – Jane L. Rosen
  • “The German Wife” – Kelly Rimmer
  • “Babel: An Arcane History” – R. F. Kuang, which Smith said wasn’t cozy, but it is highly rated.

You can also find highly suggested releases here.

Both Snail on the Wall and Booklegger Used Books have large selections of all genres to choose from. Both booksellers are looking forward to more releases in the next few months.