Something Old, Something New

Jewels? A car? Vintage glassware? What gets passed on in your family? Perhaps it’s something less material such as the colour of your eyes, a distinctive laugh or a love of dodgy 1970’s comedy. What about traditions?

Family traditions come into their own at Christmas and I love them. Wonky cardboard box with ancient tree decorations? Tick. Slightly burnt fruit cake decorated with icing and plastic snowmen from the 1980’s? Can’t wait. Doggedly serving a mountain of Brussel sprouts when a hillock would have sufficed? Actually, you can keep that one…

Christmas is a wonderful time to wallow in the nostalgia of our childhoods – remembering treats and games that we woke up to on a wintry morning – while passing on these traditions and creating new ones for our own children.

Festive traditions vary across the globe, with each country adding a new food, traditional figure or song to the mix. I think my favourite is Iceland’s Jolabokaflod (literally Christmas Book Flood) which started during the Second World War when paper was one of the few commodities not to be rationed. It centres round the giving and receiving of books on Christmas Eve, before everyone grabs a blanket and spends the evening drinking cocoa and reading. Bliss! The Icelandic publishing calendar is now centred round Jolabokaflod, with a book bulletin printed each November to showcase newly published titles.

A love of reading is definitely something that was passed down through my family and I feel the time may be right to introduce a new Christmas tradition to our household.

Whilst the ease of Christmas shopping online can’t be ignored, it really helps local businesses if you spend some of your festive cash with them. Independent bookshops are particularly good for recommendations, events and a wide choice of reading material to start your book flood! I’ve noted a couple of my favourite book shops below if you’re keen to get shopping.


Far From the Madding Crowd, Linlithgow

A wide range of books to appeal to everyone in your family, this gem also stocks some lovely gifts and cards. The owner’s knowledge of books is most helpful and there is a good selection of signed copies from which to choose the perfect present. Weekly story sessions are overseen by the cutest member of the team – resident bunny, BB.


Topping and Company Booksellers, St Andrews, Bath and Ely

Once again a wonderful selection of books with comfortable sofas from which to ponder a purchase. Complimentary tea and coffee is on offer but I think my favourite thing about this shop is the sliding wooden ladders along the towering shelves of books. Whee!