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 New Year: The Year of the Rooster

It’s that time of the year again with the Chinese New Year festivities beginning on Saturday 28 January and running through to Wednesday 15 February. This year is the year of the Red Fire Rooster, which represents inner warmth and insight, as well as family ties. Find your year of birth here to discover which of the 12 Zodiac animals you are!

 

 

The Chinese New Year, sometimes called the Spring Festival, has been celebrated for hundreds of years and is considered the most important event on the Chinese calendar. It is also celebrated by many of China’s neighbouring countries, such as Thailand, Singapore, Cambodia and the Philippines.

 

 

People in China and other countries celebrate this important occasion in all sorts of different ways. However, a couple of very popular traditions include a reunion dinner with family on the eve of the Chinese New Year, and many families do a thorough clean of their homes in order to sweep away bad things and make room for good fortune in the year ahead. Fireworks are also a common way to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

 

 

In Wellington, we celebrate the Chinese New Year with a festival day which is free to attend. Sample some special Chinese food, take part in the kids activities, or watch the parade as it proceeds from Courtenay Place to Frank Kitts Park. There might even be some fireworks in the harbour! Check out all the details for the Wellington festival day here.

 

 

Check out our wide collection of Chinese New Year books on the catalogue, and get involved this Chinese New Year!

Happy Birthday C. S. Lewis!

Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast, Ireland, on the 29 of November 1898 (that’s nearly 120 years ago now). His mother died when Lewis was just 10 years old, and he received his education in boarding schools and with private tutors.

As a small child, Lewis played a lot with his older brother Warren, and the two boys created an imaginary land called ‘Boxen’, which they continued for many years. Perhaps these early experiences were the inspiration for Narnia?

 

C. S. Lewis married once to an American writer named Joy Davidman. Joy sadly passed away from cancer only four years later. Lewis died in 1963 after suffering a heart attack, exactly one week before his 65th birthday.

Lewis was most famous for writing poetry and novels, but also worked as a university teacher. He was very spiritual as an adult, and wrote a lot about Christianity. C. S. Lewis published a total of 74 books in his lifetime for both children and adults, his most famous series being ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, which were published between 1949 and 1954 when Lewis was in his early 50s.

 

Since his death, C. S. Lewis’s stories have continued to be very popular and are considered to be classics in British literature. Some have even been made into movies! If you would like to read or listen to a book by C. S. Lewis, head over to the catalogue to check whether any are available in your local library, or place a free reserve.

5 New children’s non-fiction to read during November.

You might be thinking ahead to the summer holidays, but that’s no reason not too keep filling your head with cool facts and amazing information. Here’s some great new non-fiction to cram into your heads (not actually – we’d rather like it if you read and returned them to the library instead)

 

image courtesy of syndeticsOrigami Festivals Divali.

I realise it’s a little late, but this is a great book to have on hand for Diwali next year. Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is celebrated for five days with various activities and food. This book explores the festival and the story behind it and features six simple origami projects for your own festive fun! The book shows how people around the world decorate their homes with lights and rangoli patterns, and how they end the Diwali celebration with a special day for brothers and sisters.

 

image courtesy of syndeticsAnimation lab for kids : fun projects for visual storytelling and making art move.

In Animation Lab for Kids, artists, teachers, and authors Laura Bellmont and Emily Brink present exciting, fun, hands-on projects that teach kids a range of animation techniques.

 

 

 

image courtesy of syndeticsThe Olympic Games.

This book brings you all the excitement of the biggest multi-sport event in the world. Comes complete with dramatic photos of competitors in action and charming illustrations telling the story of the Olympics.

 

 

 

Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire’s Book of Greek myths.image courtesy of syndetics

An introduction to the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece includes all of the D’Aulaires’ original detailed illustrations. In a relaxed and humorous tone, these splendid artists bring to life the myths that have inspired great European literature and art through the ages.

 

 

image courtesy of syndeticsSuch stuff : a story-maker’s inspiration.

A wise Chinese philosopher once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This book beautifully chronicles Michael Morpurgo’s journey to becoming one of the greatest of Children’s literature to date. In this book, he shares his insights and dreams to reveal some of the fascinating ingredients he uses to create the tales we love.

 

 

Matariki: What is it all about?

iStock_000002751348SmallMatariki, the Māori New Year, means ‘tiny eyes’ or ‘eyes of god’ and is celebrated in June when a small group of stars called Pleiades rises above the horizon, bringing the old year to a close and starting a new year.

According to myth, when Ranginui, the sky father, and Papatūānuku, the earth mother, were separated by their children, the god of the winds, Tāwhirimātea, became so angry that he tore out his eyes and threw them into the heavens.

Various Māori tribes celebrated Matariki at different times. Some held festivities when Matariki was first seen in the dawn sky; others celebrated after the full moon rose or at the beginning of the next new moon. The full moon was celebrated in Wellington on June 6 this year, making the start of Matariki.

iStock_000008775653_SmallMatariki is celebrated for the rest of month, and different tribes and Iwi celebrate the New Year in a variety of different ways. Traditionally, Matariki was a time to finish storing food for the winter, weave new clothing and baskets, listen to the stories of our ancestors, and learn about the natural world.

Nowadays, New Zealanders are more likely to get together with family and friends, talk about Māori myths and culture, look at the stars through telescopes, and watch kapa haka performances.

If you want to learn more about Matariki, head on over to our catalogue, or check out the Kiwi Families website for heaps of cool ideas and craft activities.

You can find out about Matariki events in Wellington at the Matariki Wellington website.

 

Hinamatsuri: Japanese Doll Festival or Girls’ Day 2016.

image courtesy of Katie

Brace yourselves, girls! The Japanese Doll Festival (Hinamatsuri), or Girls’ Day, is being held on March 3rd in  Japan. This festival is a time to pray for the health and well being of young girls. Most homes with daughters will set up a display of hina dolls. The main dolls used are Odairi-sama (a prince) and Ohina-sama. (a princess)  Around the display dedications of peach blossoms, rice cakes and white sake are made. The festival is celebrated not only within the family but in communities, which each have their unique ways of celebrating the occasion. Check out some of the great stories about dolls that Wellington City Libraries has on offer:

Picture Books:

image courtesy oif syndeticsThe Paper Dolls.

A string of paper dolls go on a fantastical adventure through the house and out into the garden. They soon escape the clutches of the toy dinosaur and the snapping jaws of the oven-glove crocodile, but then a very real pair of scissors threatens.

 

 

image courtesy of syndeticsPatti Cake and her new doll.

Patti Cake is a little girl with a brand new big girl room and a new, but slightly smudged, doll to keep her company–if her dog Tootsie does not run away with it.

 

 

 

image courtesy of syndeticsYoko’s Show and Tell.

When Yoko’s grandparents send her a beautiful antique doll all the way from Japan, Yoko couldn’t be happier. Even though Mama says no, Yoko sneaks Miki to school for show-and-tell. How could she have guessed Miki would be in an accident along the way?

 

 

Junior Fiction:

image courtesy of syndeticsPenny and her doll.

Penny instantly loves the doll her grandmother sends her, but finding the perfect name for her is a challenge.

 

 

 

image courtesy of syndeticsThe little girl and the tiny doll.

Living in a supermarket deep freeze wasn’t very nice for the tiny doll until one day a very special little girl came along, and thought of ways to make her happier.

 

 

 

image courtesy of syndeticsThe Fairy Doll.

Elizabeth is the smallest in the family. She is always getting into trouble and her brothers and sisters are forever leaving her out and ordering her around. She’s convinced she’s useless. Then Great Grandma gives Fairy Doll to Elizabeth – and it isn’t even Christmas! From then on Elizabeth keeps hearing a little ‘Ting!’ which seems to tell her what to do. Suddenly everything starts going right instead of wrong. Could Fairy Doll be magical?

Books with Fireworks!

The 5th of November is tonight! All week long your cats and dogs will be ducking for cover as they hear fireworks exploding left, right and centre! If you’re lucky you might be allowed to stay up late and watch the Sky Show Fireworks this Saturday night! If not then maybe you can read a book with fireworks in them. Yes, it’s pretty hard to put fireworks into books. Maybe as you read about the fireworks in these books below you can make loud exploding sounds? Just tell anyone who asks that you’re trying to make the story you’re reading seem as real as possible!

 

Remember That November! by Jennifer Beck

This is a special book in our collection that was a finalist in the 2013 NZ Post Children’s Best Picture Book Award. What’s even cooler is that we have a version of the story in our collection that is in entirely in Te Reo: Maumahara ki tērā Nōema nā Jennifer Beck. We really encourage you to check them both out!

“It’s almost Guy Fawkes Night, and at the school speech competition, Andy talks about Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. The children cheer, thinking Andy will win the contest. But then, Aroha tells the story of another fifth of November – in 1881, at Parihaka. This is a beautifully illustrated picture book about the passive resistance led by Te Whiti o Rongomai and Tohu Kakahi in Taranaki. This is a piece of history that was forgotten for a long time!” (Goodreads)

 

Secret Seven Fireworks by Enid Blyton

For those avid Secret Seven readers you may want to check out book 11 in the series! It is all about fireworks and adventure.

Jack’s little sister, Susie, is very annoying and the Secret Seven are furious when she forms a rival club. But is Susie wicked enough to have stolen some money?” (Goodreads)

 

Olivia forms a Band by Ian Falconer

Olivia is one of the coolest characters I’ve ever meet in a book. This picture book is of course ideal for younger siblings in your family! But sometimes us older kids (adults) like to read a picture book too. Fireworks in this story are guaranteed!

Olivia has decided to form a band: a one-pig band, to be exact. And as we soon find out, Olivia is certainly capable of making enough noise to sound like an entire orchestra.” (Goodreads)

 

Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot by Sarah Ridley.

Because knowledge is power here is a non-fiction book from our collection that gives you a good introduction to the sneaky history of Guy Fawkes. This book is full of gun powder! (Not actually, as that would be unsafe and uncool!)

 

 

Find out about Ramadan with these 5 children’s books

It’s Ramadan!

Have you heard of Ramadan? Ramadan is a special time for more than one billion (!) Muslim people all over the world, including those who live in New Zealand.

During Ramadan they remember the prophet Muhammed who received the first verses of the holy book the Qur’an. It lasts for 4 weeks and it is a time when people fast, they do not drink or eat from sunrise until sunset!  They break the fast with a special meal called the Iftar, then they go out and visit family and friends.

Why? Not eating anything gives Muslims time to focus on other things, such as family, kindness and helping others. But most importantly it makes them feel closer to God and their beliefs.

At the end of Ramadan the fast will be broken. This is a special celebration called Eid. Eid is an Arabic word meaning “festivity”.

We have many books about Muslims and their religion Islam. Some are fact books and some are picture and storybooks. Grab some of these and find out about this important celebrations that many people around the world are currently taking part in. Here are some you may like to read:

 

Nabeel’s new pants : an Eid tale Retold by Fawzia Gilani-Williams

While buying gifts for his family to wear to the mosque on Eid a shoemaker is persuaded to get new pants for himself, but the only pair available is too long and no one seems to have time to shorten them.

 

 

Islamic Culture by Charlotte Guillain

An introduction to some of the world’s most fascinating and ancient cultures. Discover different approaches to visual arts and performance and find out about important beliefs, traditions, and customs. Also covers the role of family and community and how cultures are changing and developing in the 21st century.

 

 

The garden of my Imaan by Farhana Zia

The arrival of new student Marwa, a fellow sixth-grader who is a strict Muslim, helps Aliya come to terms with her own lukewarm practice of the faith and her embarrassment over others’ reactions to their beliefs.

 

 

 

Golden domes and silver lanterns: a Muslim book of colours by by Hena Khan (eBook)

In simple rhyming text a young Muslim girl and her family guide the reader through the traditions and colours of Islam.

 

 

1001 inventions & awesome facts from Muslim civilization

This book traces centuries of invention and technological innovation in the Muslim world, revealing how Muslim intellectuals built elephant water clocks, drew detailed world maps, and built colossal architectural structures.

Halloween stories and crafts at the Library

They’re creepy and they’re kooky,  mysterious and spooky; they’re all together ooky…  Karori and Khandallah Library customers?!!  The branches were taken over by an assortment of witches, ghosts and monsters this Halloween.  After their trick or treating, our fiendish friends gathered in the library for some scary stories and creepy crafts.  We hope they didn’t cast any horrible spells on us while they were here!!

 

Happy Halloween!

Ooooohhhhh! It’s the spookiest day of the year today – It’s Halloween!

I wanted to find out a little bit about the history of Halloween, so I quickly visited Wikipedia and found out…

  • It’s also known as All Hallows’ Eve
  • The word ‘Halloween’ is a christian work and dates back to 1745 and means ‘hallowed evening’ or ‘holy evening’
  • Typical activities to celebrate Halloween are tick-or-treating, going to costume parties, decorating your house and carving pumpkins, lighting bonfires, going to haunted attractions, playing pranks, watching scary movies and telling ghost stories.
  • Lots more info about the history of Halloween around the world and how it’s celebrated today (go to the wikipedia article for more, there’s also a short article in simple english)

Check out the Halloween entry on our KidsCat for more info too – lost of weblinks and library books you can check out. Did you know that there’s a haunted house in Miramar that you can visit? Check out this article on the Dominion Post Website about it.

To celebrate Halloween, we have two evening dress-up storytimes (great for 5-10 year olds) happening at Karori and Khandallah Libraries tonight, starting at 6.30pm. Come along in your scariest costume and make us scream!

 

Here are some cool books and DVDs about Halloween stuff that you can take home:

How to create spectacular Halloween costumes by Louann Brown and Jason Nemeth

 

 

 

 

 

How to make frightening Halloween decorations by Catherine Ipcizade

 

 

 

 

 

Frightfully fun Halloween handbook by Carole Nicksin

 

 

 

 

 

The Halloween handbook : 447 costumes by Bridie Clark and Ashley Dodd

 

 

 

 

 

The best Halloween ever by Barbara Robinson

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Halloween, you ‘fraidy mouse! by Geronimo Stilton

 

 

 

 

 

Trixie the Halloween fairy by Daisy Meadows

 

 

 

 

 

Spooky and Scary DVDs:
Tom and Jerry: Tricks & treats
Shrek’s thrilling tales
Monster High: Ghouls rule
Trick or treat tales
Eloise’s rawther unusual Halloween
The dog who saved Halloween