Ghosts, monsters, and naughty gods: All you need to know about Halloween!

To many of us, Halloween is not much more than an excuse to wear a spooky costume, listen to some scary stories and maybe carve up a pumpkin, all while hoovering up more lollies than is probably wise. However, to find out more about why people the world over celebrate this holiday, we have to step back in time to visit the ancient Celts, with quick stopovers in 7th-century Rome and 16th-century Germany along the way.

Let’s go for a spooky ride through time.

The brainy people who study such things generally agree that Halloween finds its roots in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain (pronounced sa-win). Samhain was traditionally held on November 1, and it marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, the “dark half” of the year. Ancient Celts believed that during Samhain the world of the gods became visible to ordinary people, and the gods delighted in frightening and playing tricks on their worshippers. Sometimes they appeared as monsters in the dead of night. Sound familiar?

When the Romans conquered Britain in the 1st century CE, they merged Samhain with their own festival of the dead, Feralia. Now the frightening monsters and delicious treats of the harvest were joined by ghosts and restless spirits. The traditions that make up modern Halloween were starting to take form.

Fastforward to Rome, 7th century CE. Pope Boniface IV brought in All Saints’ Day, originally celebrated on May 13 — within a century, the date was changed to November 1, perhaps in an attempt to replace the pagan Samhain festival with a Christian equivalent. The day before All Saints’ Day was considered holy, or ‘hallowed.’ This is where the word ‘Halloween’ comes from — it is the Hallowed Eve.

Zoom forwards in time again to Germany, 16th century CE. The Protestant Reformation, led by people like Martin Luther and John Calvin, put a stop to the still pagan-influenced Halloween festival in most Protestant countries. However, in Britain and Ireland, the festival remained in place as a secular (non-religious) holiday, and the tradition followed English-speaking settlers to the United States, where it is still a hugely important part of the festive calendar. Many of the traditions introduced in the dark and mysterious woods and cairns of ancient Celtia live on to this day in the form of the modern Halloween festival.

Interested in learning more about this fascinating and era-spanning festival, and the people who celebrated it? Why not check out some of these books at your local library:

Celts by Sonya Newland
“The Celts were fearsome warriors, but they also developed trade routes across Europe and made beautiful jewellery. Find out about Celtic tribes, how Boudicca rebelled against the Romans, and how the Celts celebrated with feasts and festivals.” (Catalogue)


Prehistoric Britain by Alex Frith
“From the age of dinosaurs to the Roman invasion, this book tells the story of this vast and exciting period of British history. It describes when and how people first came to Britain, and includes information on the Bronze Age, Iron Age, Celts and the mysteries of Stonehenge. Full of facts, illustrations, photographs, maps and timelines.” (Catalogue)


Celebrate Halloween by Deborah Heiligman
“Vivid images and lively, inviting text illuminate the spookiest night of the year. This book spirits readers on a tour of Halloween celebrations around the globe as it explores the rich history of this holiday and the origins of its folklore, food, games, costumes, and traditions.” (Catalogue)


Traditional celebrations by Ian Rohr
“This interesting book is part of a series written for young students that focuses on a wide variety of celebrations and festivals held for special occasions throughout the world. It focuses on traditional celebrations.” (Catalogue)

Chinese Language Week at Karori Library

For Chinese Language Week, Karori Library will be holding a special Mandarin storytime session for children of all ages on Tuesday 25th of September, 10:30-11:00am. Everyone is welcome to come along to our free, fun-filled, storytime session featuring songs, stories, and rhymes in Mandarin and English.

中文周 — 普通话故事会
9 月25日星期二, 10.30-11.00am
Karori 图书馆
欢迎大家参加妙趣横生的普通话和英语双语故事会。
我们一起唱儿歌、听童谣、讲故事。

Karori Library also holds regular Mandarin Storytimes on the third Tuesday of each month, from 10:30-11:00am, as well as conversational English classes for the Chinese senior community every Tuesday from 10:30-12:00. Contact the Library on 476 8413 to find out more!

中国龙制作 – Dragon Making for Chinese Language Week @ Khandallah Library

Come along and celebrate Chinese language week at Khandallah Library by making paper dragons! Supplies will be provided to help you make your own elegant, wise or fierce dragon. Join us at Khandallah Library on Thursday 27th September from 6:30 to 7:00pm.
No RSVP required. Suitable all ages!

Check out these books to learn more about Chinese language and culture: 

First words. Mandarin / Mansfield, Andy

Lonely Planet have put together this gorgeous children’s guide to 100 basic mandarin words for topics like food and weather.

All about China : stories, songs, crafts and games for kids / Branscombe, Allison

Explore Chinese history, tradition and art with this beautiful book.

Gordon & Li Li : words for everyday / McSween, Michele Wong

Meet Li Li and Gordon as they learn to communicate in simple Mandarin and English.

Super simple Chinese art : fun and easy art from around the world / Kuskowski, Alex

Learn how to create a range of Chinese crafts, adapted for kids with a step-by-step guide.

See you at Khandallah Library!

Teddy Bear Sleepover at Khandallah Library

Yes, you heard right — the Great Teddy Bear Sleepover is coming to Khandallah Library again! Bring your favourite teddy bear or soft toy and join us for a super fun half hour of stories, songs, and activities, then leave your teddies behind to have a big sleepover with all their new friends. Who knows what they’ll get up to in the library after hours… pick them up on Friday to find out!

Where? Khandallah Library, 8 Ganges Road, Khandallah
When? Thursday 26th July, 6:30pm

Teddy bears read!

Teddies can read too, you know!

At Khandallah Library, we host special events for children and their families on the last Thursday of each month at 6:30pm. Keep an eye on the Kids Blog and the library noticeboard, or call the library on 479 7535 to find out more!

Matariki, Matariki, Matariki – te tau hou o te iwi Māori e!

Tēnā koutou kātoa! Join us in celebrating Matariki at Wellington City Libraries this winter! Matariki means “tiny eyes,” or “eyes of god,” and is celebrated in June and early July when a group of stars called the Pleiades rises above the horizon. Many Māori tribes have used the rising of Matariki to mark the beginning of the new year. It’s a time of celebration and reflection, of whānau and of kōrerorero — and a time to cook and eat delicious kai! Whether you want to celebrate with others or just learn more about this wonderful festival, your library has you covered with books, resources and events for the whole family.

Many of our usual preschool storytime and Kōhunga Kōrero sessions this month will be Matariki-themed, but we’re also running special Matariki events with stories, songs and crafts for tamariki and their families at some libraries — ask your local librarian if you’d like to find out more:

Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library: Monday 18th June, 6:30pm
Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library: Wednesday 20th June, 4:00pm
Island Bay Community Centre: Thursday 21st June, 10:30am
Karori Library: Thursday 21st June, 6:30pm
Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library: Thursday 28th June, 3:30pm
Khandallah Library: Thursday 28th June, 6:30pm
Johnsonville Library: Friday 29th June, 3:30pm
 
Also, check out some of our favourite Matariki books and resources below. As always, you can check our catalogue for more!

Matariki / Holt, Sharon
“The newest book in the popular award winning Te Reo Singalong series follows a family through their Matariki celebrations over the course of a day. The family wakes at dawn to see the Matariki star cluster and the book takes the family as visitors arrive for a traditional Matariki feast. As the evening draws in, the children create their own stars using sparklers. Each Te Reo Singalong book includes a song CD, English translation, guitar chords and extension ideas. This book also includes information about Matariki.” (Catalogue)
 

Ngā whetū Matariki whānakotia / Kamo, Miriama
“Behind dusty orange hills, where the sky stretches down to the sea, theres a magical, wild, windy place called Te Mata Hapuku. Sam and Te Rerehua love to visit their Grandma and Poua at Te Mata Hapuku (aka Birdlings Flat). They like to collect agate from the stories, with a backdrop of whipping wind, flashing torchlight, and the splash of Pouas gaff in the water. But one night, Grandma notices something mysterious. Someone has stolen some stars from the sky.” (Catalogue)
 

Tawhirimātea : a song for Matariki / Pitman-Hayes, June “Singer/songwriter June Pitman-Hayes wrote this waiata for the children at the Montessori School where she was teaching music. With its delightful, lyrical melody, it warmly weaves together aspects of Māori mythology with the seasons, as a family welcomes Matariki.
A te reo Māori version by Ngaere Roberts is also included in the book and on the CD.” (Scholastic)
 

The little kiwi’s Matariki / Slade-Robinson, Nikki “The little kiwi is fast asleep in her burrow. A beam of moonlight shines right down into her burrow. She wakes, and realises it is time […] This gentle tale about celebrating Matariki, the Maori New Year, finishes with an explanation of Matariki – its origins, traditions and how it is celebrated today. The constellation is also shown, with the Maori names for each star. The text contains some simple words in Te Reo Maori alongside the English equivalent.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Fairy Tales with a Twist at Khandallah Library!

Have you ever wanted to put together your very own fairy tale plot? Or test out your artistic skills in creating your own fairy tale character? Come on down to Khandallah Library on the last Thursday of the month for an awesome evening of fairy tales featuring the characters you know and love, and finish up by writing your own tale or drawing your own character! We would love to see you there.

Where? Khandallah Library, 8 Ganges Road, Khandallah
When? Thursday the 31st of May, 6:30pm

What stories could be playing out in yon trees?

At Khandallah Library, we host special events for children and their families on the last Thursday of each month at 6:30pm. Keep an eye on the Kids Blog and the library noticeboard to find out more!

Let’s Go LEGO Schedule Update

This is just a very quick update to let you know that from the 2nd of June, Let’s Go LEGO at Karori Library will be held half an hour earlier from 2:00-3:00pm. Previously it was held from 2:30-3:30pm. We hope that this change means that you’ll all have more time to chat and browse the library for books to take home following each session!

 

Here’s the updated Let’s Go LEGO schedule:

Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library: First Thursday of the month, 3:30-4:30pm

Khandallah Library: First Friday of the month, 3:30-4:30pm

Karori Library: First Saturday of the month, 2:00-3:00pm

Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library: Second Thursday of the month, 3:30-4:30pm

Johnsonville Library: Second Friday of the month, 3:30-4:30pm

For more info about the Let’s Go LEGO programme, check out the What’s On page here, email enquiries@wcl.govt.nz, or ask your local librarian

A Lego creation by the very talented Elijah at Karori Library!

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Let’s Go Lego is coming to Khandallah!

More exciting news in the world of Let’s Go Lego — the programme is finally coming back to Khandallah Library! The first session will be on Friday the 4th of May at 3:30pm, and sessions will continue on the first Friday of every month thereafter. No need to book, and it’s totally free — just turn up on the day and have fun!

Since our last official update, the programme has also expanded to include Johnsonville Library. The full Let’s Go Lego timetable (for the moment!) is laid out below:

Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library — first Thursday of the month, 3:30-4:30pm
Khandallah Library — first Friday of the month, 3:30-4:30pm
Karori Library — first Saturday of the month, 2:30-3:30pm
Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library — second Thursday of the month, 3:30-4:30pm
Johnsonville Library — second Friday of the month, 3:30-4:30pm

Let’s build – Let’s explore – Let’s create!

Lego Legends at Khandallah Library

Let’s Go Lego is returning to Khandallah Library after a long absence — we can’t wait to see you there!

For more information, contact Stephen at Karori Library, 476 8413, or email enquiries@wcl.govt.nz

Easter Book Hunt at Khandallah Library!

What do origami, lost (and found!) books, and the coming of the new season all have in common? The Easter Book Hunt at Khandallah Library, that’s what! Join us at Khandallah Library on the last Thursday of the month for an evening of stories, a super fun treasure hunt, and come away with your own special origami bookmark!

Where? Khandallah Library, 8 Ganges Road, Khandallah
When? Thursday the 29th of March, 6:30pm

Easter bookmarks at Khandallah Library

Make an origami Easter bookmark to take home!

At Khandallah Library, we host special events for children and their families on the last Thursday of each month at 6:30pm. Keep an eye on the Kids Blog and the library noticeboard to find out more!

LEGO fun at Tawa and Cummings Park!

Let’s Go LEGO is coming to Tawa! Come along to our first session for the year at 3:30pm on Thursday the 8th of February at Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library for a whole bunch of exciting LEGO challenges that will test your creativity and problem-solving skills! Sessions will continue on the second Thursday of each month — each session will encourage you to hone your LEGO design skills and build a masterpiece to be proud of. Suitable for ages 5+.

And don’t forget it’s nearly time for Let’s Go LEGO to start up again at Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library, with a shiny new regular time slot at 3:30pm on the first Thursday of each month! So come along to our first session next Thursday the 1st of February, and make sure you bring your thinking caps. Your first challenge is going to be to create a giant collaborative model — but I won’t tell you any more about it until you get here on the day! We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

Let’s Go LEGO dates and times:
Karori Library: First Saturday of each month, 2:30-3:30pm
Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library: First Thursday of each month, 3:30-4:30pm
Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library: Second Thursday of each month, 3:30-4:30pm

Lego model image

A wonderful creation from the kids of Let’s Go LEGO at Karori Library!

For more information on Let’s Go LEGO and other library programmes for children, please email enquiries@wcl.govt.nz