Christmas

Let’s begin a Jolabokaflod!

The small country (329,000 people) of Iceland boasts it has more writers, books published and books read than anywhere else in the world. Can you imagine that? To those of us who are “Book People”, this is astonishing! A tradition we can all be envious of is Jolabokaflod – the “Christmas Book Flood”. Christmas Eve is a time of giving books and stores are sold out long before the special night.  Each person receives at least one print books (not ebooks) along with chocolate to enjoy for the rest of the evening when it is tradition to spend the night reading. It wasn’t long ago that all TV stations in Iceland stopped broadcasting from 6pm-10pm because everyone was reading! The book season kicks off in September when each family receives Bokatidindi, a catalog of new publications from the Iceland Publishers Association distributed free to every Icelandic home.  By early December book stores are sold out. Because of this amazing tradition, Reyckavik has been named by the United Nations as a “city of Literature” and it host the international children’s literature festival and the international Literary Festival. Icelanders have a grand history of storytelling.  The Icelandic Sagas written around the 13th century…

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A Victorian San Francisco Christmas

By M. Louisa Locke-Award Winning Author   Because the most recent book in my Victorian San Francisco Mystery series, Pilfered Promises, is set during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, 1880, I spent a good deal of time researching how residents of that city were celebrating the holidays that year, including looking for articles in the San Francisco Chronicle. What I found was that many of the traditions that we are familiar with today started in the Nineteenth century…including the importance of advertising special holiday sales! “The Arcade: We are offering this week SPECIAL and EXTRAORDINARY INDUCEMENTS to buyers of HOLIDAY PRESENTS, especially in our SILK DEPARTMENT” ––San Francisco Chronicle, December 19, 1880 However, these traditions were actually relatively new. Before the mid-1880s, most native-born Americans, particularly Protestants from the Northeast, saw Thanksgiving and not Christmas as the key national holiday. In fact, throughout the 1800s, a number of Protestant denominations were very resistant to the celebration of the birth of Christ in any fashion beyond religious observances. Not surprisingly, it was the Southern state of Louisiana, where there was a significant Catholic population, that first declared December 25th a holiday (in 1837), and Christmas wasn’t declared a national legal…

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Comics Are Books Too!

  When I was a child, I saved all my money to buy comic books!  Not just any comic books but the ones called Classics Illustrated and Classics Illustrated Junior.  The former were condensed, comic book versions of some of the greatest books ever written, and the latter were the greatest of fairy tales.  At one time, I owned them all and I am so fortunate that one of my sons, a serious comic book collector, has preserved those of these treasures that survived my growing up and many household moves over the years.  I credit these comic books for my love of books today. I was only about 5 years old when I began collecting the fairy tales—some well-known—and others just as wonderful but lesser known like The Penny Prince, The Wild Swans and Silly Hans.  When I was in grade school, I moved up to the Classics. Can you imagine a second grader reading The Last of the Mohicans?  In comic book form they were readable for a young child and I loved them.  I later made it a goal to read the entire book version of each of these classics. We all know the benefits of reading…

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Interview with Catherine Lorraine

We'd like to welcome, indieBRAG Reader Catherine Lorraine to talk with us today about her reading!  Catherine, what is important about reading for you? Reading is a very important part of my life…I read to relax and to get away from everyday stress.   I read to learn and escape to exotic places. Even though I read many books in a year…..I usually only read before going to bed, sometimes on week-ends and when I am going to appointments where I have to wait. Do you enjoy reading for BRAG and what positive experiences have had?  I like to read for BRAG as this gives me a chance to read books I might never have found on my own. I have found a few new favourites and have become a fan always waiting for that next book.  BRAG also challenges me to read books I might have never picked up to read and I have been excited by a few books that I have read.  I also am a fan of Indie Authors….I am so glad that they have found a way to publish their books without the help of big publishers.  I must admit that a few years ago I…

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A Romantic Swedish Christmas

A Romantic Swedish Christmas Foodie Lit: A genre of novel and memoirs filled with food stories and recipes                     The darkness of the Swedish winter is lit by a multitude of candles—and what a pretty custom it is, as many Swedes prepare for a traditional Christmas. Susan's longtime Swedish friend, Lotta Heggestad, shared her family's Swedish Christmas customs. Susan celebrated a Swedish Christmas with her many years ago and has such wonderful memories!  Lotta sent pictures of her Mellanvik home, above, to give us an idea of the beauty and romance of this season. A traditional food is the saffron bun.  Lotta told us that the saffronsbullen are eaten with coffee for breakfast on the morning of St. Lucia, Dec. 13, and on Christmas Eve, on the julbrod, Christmas Table, with glögg, a delicious mulled wine, and the whole smorgasbord of traditional Swedish foods from Swedish meatballs, to Grav Lax, herring, salmon, meat, egg, bread, cheese, paté, rice porridge with cinnamon, sugar and milk, sausages and so on! Lotta added, “Otherwise we have the saffron buns for 'fika' i.e coffee or tea in the afternoon with buns and cookies. I think 'fika' is one of the most important words an immigrant learns after…

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