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)

Focus On: Niuean Language

Hello! Fakaalofa atu!

Recently New Zealand celebrated Niuean Language Week – Vagahau Niue Weekand we have books to help you discover and explore the language, the culture and the people of Niue.

 

Give it a go! Here are some handy phrases to try:

 

Ko au he Fale Tohi.

I am at the library.

 

Ko au ne totou tohi.

I am reading a book.

 

Iloa nakai e koe ha vagahau Niue?

Do you know any Niuean langauge?

 

Nàkai.    

No.

 

Begin your language learning journey here:

Tau matatohi Faka-Niue : Niue alphabet with English translation, by Bettina Ikenasio-Thorpe. Learn the basics of the language, the alphabet, numbers and colours.

 

To find out more about the people and the place, dive into these:

The rat and the octopus, by Jill MacGregor. Pita, who lives in the village of Tuapa on the island of Niue, describes how to catch an octopus with a lure shaped like a rat. Includes some Niuean words and a glossary.

The uga hunt, by Jill MacGregor. Arfa, who lives in Niue, describes how he and his father hunt for huge coconut crabs called uga.

Show day, by Jill MacGregor. Livisia, who lives in the village of Alofi South on the island of Niue, describes how her village hosts Show Day, a day of celebrations for the whole island. Includes some Niuean words and a glossary. In picture book format.

 

Haia! Allright!

Focus On: Fijian Language

Bula! Hello!

Recently is was Macawa ni Vosa Vakaviti- Fijian Language Week. So we thought we would highlight some cool facts and books about the beautiful Fijian Language! Wellington City Libraries would love to journey with you as you learn more about the language, the culture and the people of Fiji.

Here are some handy things to say:

Au tiko ena vale ni vola.
I am at the library.

Au wili vola tiko
I am reading a book

Ko kila e dua na vosa vakaviti?
Do you know any Fijian language?

Sega
‘No.

If you would like to learn some Fijian, you could choose to borrow these books from ena vale (the library):

Fijian for kids by Jahri Jah Jah

 

Matanivola vaka viti = Fijian alphabets by T. Vunidilo

 

 

 

Would you like to find out more about Fiji – the people and the place? Try these books:

 

Go Fiji, Go! by David Riley

The inspiring story behind Fiji’s first Olympic gold medal … and the incredible joy it brought to the nation. Wananavu (awesome) for ages 7 – 10.

 

 

 

Billy’s Weekend by Jill MacGregor

Billy, who lives on the island of Ovalau in Fiji, describes some of the things he does on the weekend. Includes some Fijian words, and a glossary. Wananavu (awesome) for ages 3 – 6.

 

Vinaka vakalevu! – Thankyou very much!

 

Bee Aware Month!

September is Bee Awareness month and this year Apiculture New Zealand are focusing on bee health by educating us on how we can feed the bees and help protect our precious bee population.

Did you know that bees support New Zealand’s agri-industry exports by over $5 billion annually – that is heaps! Plus they help grow one third of all the food we eat as well as helping our gardens flourish and look beautiful.

There is heaps that we can do to help out our little buzzing friends and one of the easiest way is by planting bee friendly plants and flowers. Bees need food so that they can help pollinate the food we eat. Bees will feed on pollen and nectar and this helps them to grow and Bee strong which helps them to fight off disease and parasites.

Bees also need clean water so why not make a shallow container for them to drink from. Just make sure you put pebbles and twigs in the water so the bees have something to rest on while they are drinking.

Another way we can help the bees is to stop spraying our gardens with harmful pesticides which kill the bees.

Palmers Garden Centre who are supporting Bee Awareness Month have information and competitions on their website plus check out their 5 top tips for a bee friendly backyard.

The library also has heaps of books on bees so take a look and… Lets save our bees!

Mālō e lelei! Tongan Language Week 2018

Mālō e lelei! Hello!

Here, in Aotearoa, it is Uike Kātoanga’i ‘o e Lea Faka-Tonga- Tongan Language Week.

It begins Sunday 2 September and finishes on Saturday 8 September 2018 but you can continue learning and celebrating Tongan Language all year round!

Take your time and enjoy the sights and sounds using ‘ihe laipeli – your library!

 

‘Oku ke lava ‘o lea faka-Tonga?’    ‘Do you speak Tongan?’

‘Ikai.’     ‘No.’

You could start by reading  Tongan for Kids by Jahri Jah Jah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bettina Ikenasio-Thorpe’s books will help with learning the alphabet, numbers and colours in Tongan. She has three awesome books: ‘Alafapeti : Tongan alphabet with English translationNgaahi lanu : colours in Tongan and English, and Lau ‘a e taha ki he hongofulu : counting one to ten in Tongan and English.

 

‘Oku ke lava ‘o lea faka-Tonga?’      ‘Do you speak Tongan?’

‘Oku ou lea faka-Tonga si’isi’i pē’    ‘I speak a little Tongan.’

These stories are written by Carolyn Collis with an English translation on the back cover.

     

 

‘Oku ke lava ‘o lea faka-Tonga?’      ‘Do you speak Tongan?’

‘ ‘Io.’      ‘Yes.’

Aiani and the Pia Ghost  is great for Tongan speakers. Give it a go!

The International Children’s Digital Library is a great place to find books and stories from different cultures all around the world.

 

 

Would you like to know more about the people of Tonga? David Riley’s Tongan Heroes is a good place to start and has great illustrations by Michael Mulipola.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, lastly, here are some other amazing books about Tonga and Tongan stories…

 

Ko e Mali : ko e talanoa faka-Tonga mei Nuʻu Sila by Christine Nurminen

A story about a traditional Tongan wedding that takes place in New Zealand


The Mouse and the Octopus, by Lisala Halapua

Retells a traditional Tongan fable about a mischievous mouse, who is rescued by an octopus, but tricks his saviour. This represents the origins of traditional fishing lure design.

 

 

 

Kelea’s Clothes, by Jill MacGregor

Kelea, who lives in Tonga, describes some of the special clothes she wears for different occasions, including the ta’ovala and kiekie. Contains some Tongan words and glossary.

 

 

 

 

Monū’ia – Good Luck!

 

International Asteroid Day

Did you know that there is an International Asteroid Day?

Asteroid Day aims to raise awareness about asteroids and what can be done to protect the Earth, its families, communities and future generations from a catastrophic event.

It was co-founded in 2014  by Dr. Brian May an astrophysicist and rock legend, Danica Remy  president of B612 FoundationRusty Schweickart an astronaut and Grig Richters a German filmmaker.

Following on from this the United Nations General Assembly officially declared June 30th each year as the International Asteroid Day.

June 30 was chosen because it marks Earth’s largest asteroid impact in recorded history, the Siberia Tunguska event, which occurred on the 30 June 1908 and devastated over 2,000 km2 of forest, an area the size of any major city today.

A declaration was created called the 100X Declaration where scientist and technologist who support the idea of saving the earth from asteroids were asked to sign. But the really cool thing is that everyone has the opportunity to sign. To date the 100X Declaration has been signed by more that 22,000 private citizens.

There is heaps of information, resources, movies, videos, fun stuff plus the countdown until June 30 on the official International Asteroid Day website so check it out. And don’t forget we also have lots of information and books in the library.

 

 

 

 

Live online homework help with AnyQuestions

Need help with those tricky school subjects? Not sure where to start on your project? Have a topic that you want to know more about? Just need a good website?

Then you need to go to AnyQuestions.co.nz

AnyQuestions offers free online schoolwork help to New Zealand school students. You can log on to the website from 1pm to 6pm weekdays during the school year and chat online with a friendly librarian about a schoolwork question.

AnyQuestions librarians are specially trained to help you find the answers you need, without giving you the answers of course! They will guide you to quality information sources and help you gain the skills to do future searches yourself.

AnyQuestions will work with any internet enabled device, such as a computer, tablet or a smartphone. AnyQuestions does look a bit different on different devices but you’re still talking to a librarian, somewhere in New Zealand.

The site is backed by the Ministry of Education and is staffed by librarians from Wellington City Libraries and other libraries around New Zealand.

For more information visit AnyQuestions.

8 New (and not so new) Non Fiction on Lego mania, innovative gaming and science trends!

Has the back to school blues finally sunk in? Have no fear, there’s more and exciting new non fiction in stock at your local library.

Featured in this blog post are books on the latest and innovative trends in the world of gaming, science and technology, not to mention an old favourite Pokémon, which has been reinvented, evolved and rebranded as Pokémon GO! Not to mention, Lego mania has been unleashed in the library once again with some new and not so new books on the original Lego Movie and the upcoming release of The Lego Batman Movie!  I for one am excited about The Lego Batman movie because this is where the world of Lego, DC comics, innovation, play and imagination comes together and opens you up to a world of endless possibilities, creativity and entertainment.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, Lego Bricks has been applauded by teachers and parents as one of the best toys for learning, building creativity, and strengthening fine-motor skills, not to mention Lego Bricks are an open-ended toy, meaning they can become just about anything a child or adult imagines, including an educational tool. See more about this on  Inner Child Learning,

But enough about Lego, the 8 non fiction books featured in this post will keep you amused and entertained for hours and also will keep you informed and up to date with the latest trends and technological developments in the modern world.

Enjoy!

image courtesy of syndetics The Lego Batman movie : the essential guide.

To celebrate the upcoming release of The Lego Batman Movie, the spin off of The Lego Movie, which will released in NZ cinemas on the 6th of April just in time for the school holidays, the library has in stock for your viewing and reading pleasure, The Batman movie : the essential guide. This book will enable you to go behind the scenes and discover everything there is to know about The LEGO Batman Movie with this ultimate guide. Featuring the latest LEGO Batman set and mini-figures.

image courtesy of syndeticsWhile you’re at it, why not check out The LEGO movie : the essential guide. This guide will tell you need to know about the original LEGO Movie, including character profiles and location spreads from the upcoming movie.

image courtesy of syndeticsThe Lego Movie Handbook.

Seen the movie? (I haven’t – Naughty me!) Now is the time to read the movie handbook. Join Brickburg, Wyldstyle, Unikitty, Batman and the rest of the gang in reading this book where you will learn everything you need to know about the Lego Movie, including Stories from Bricksburg’s happiest residents, a special message from President Business and a never before seen episode of Where Are My Pants. Overall I enjoyed this book. It was very funny, humorous, gave me the opportunity to revisit and embrace my inner child and has inspired to go and see the movie.  Also check out the move trailer.

As a special treat, why not check out the latest The Lego Batman Movie trailer here.

image courtesy of syndeticsGaming Live!

Want to watch the BEST gamers in the world but don’t know where to start? This guide enables you to watch the pros in action as they teach you how to dominate your favourite games! A must have resource for the avid gamer!

image courtesy of syndeticsPokémon Go!

The world of Pokémon and mobile games collides with Pokémon GO! The Ultimate Unauthorized Guide. This book is a must-read companion to the hit mobile game that has taken the world by storm.  This guide includes everything you need to know about Lures, PokéBalls, Eggsand much more.

image courtesy of syndeticsThis Book Thinks You’re a scientist!

The title does justice to the information contained within this book.  Read this book and learn all the tricks of the trade of what is essential to becoming a scientist, which includes look, ask questions, wonder and test your ideas. You’ll also do things scientists don’t necessarily do: eat your experiments, levitate paper clips and play a drinking straw like an oboe. There are even portable laboratory pages for you to experiment on, so that by the end, you’ll know how to invent your own fun ways of finding out about the world. Overall, this book is a must have read for the avid scientist enthusiast! 

image courtesy of syndeticsMistakes that worked: The World’s familiar inventions and how they came to be.

Do you know how many things in your daily life were invented by accident? SANDWICHES came about when an English earl was too busy gambling to eat his meal and needed to keep one hand free. POTATO CHIPS were first cooked by a chef who was furious when a customer complained that his fried potatoes weren’t thin enough. Coca-Cola, Silly Putty, and X rays have fascinating stories behind them too! Their unusual tales, and many more, along with hilarious cartoons and weird, amazing facts, make up this fun-filled book about everyday items that had surprisingly haphazard beginnings.

image cpurtesy of syndeticsHow Super Cool Stuff Works.

Discover the mind-blowing high-tech inventions of the future in How Super Cool Stuff Works. Contained in this book are incredible images that reveal the secret to inner workings of everything from drones and supercomputers to underwater hotels and flying cars. In short, this book features a futuristic world I don’t think anyone saw coming.

 

The Modern Olympics

You might think the Olympics are over, but the countdown to the Paralympics has only just begun. These games, for athletes with impaired physical abilities, start on 7th September in the same place as the Olympics – Rio De Janerio.

 

While we wait, here is some cool info on the Modern Olympics. You can read our post about the Ancient History of the Olympics to catch up.

 

The ancient Olympic games officially began in 776 BC in Greece and occurred every four years, or Olympiads, ending in 393 AD (after about 1000 years) because they were considered a pagan practice.

Pierre de Coubertin, a French educator, believed in the importance of physical education, and in international competition. Coubertin helped to revive the idea of the olympic games in the 1890s and was a founding member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894.

The modern olympic games began with the 1896 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Olympic_ringA couple of well known symbols that are used to promote the games are the olympic flag and the olympic flame. The rings on the Olympic flag represent the five parts of the world: the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

 

 

The number of sports that are played in the current olympics are much higher and more diverse than at the ancient olympic games; they include archery, athletics, badminton, basketball, boxing, canoeing, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, football, golf, gymnastics, handball, hockey, judo, modern pentathlon, rowing, rugby sevens, sailing, shooting, swimming, taekwondo, tennis, triathlon, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, and wrestling.

And that’s just the summer olympics! The winter olympics are held every four years as well, the next one will be in 2018 in PyeongChang, Korea. The sports at the winter olympics are all done in snow or ice; skiing, bobsleigh, curling, skating, ice hockey, luge, ski jumping, and snowboarding.

 

Check out this Enyclopaedia Britannica article about the history of the Olympic games! (You’ll need your library card to login)

 

Want to know more? Find these books in your local library:

Syndetics book coverThe story of the Olympics : the wacky facts about the Olympics and Olympic champions down the centuries! by Richard Brassey
“Records and reputations, cheats and champs, victors and venues – here’s the lowdown on the modern Olympic games, from bestselling author and illustrator, Richard Brassey. From the games of ancient Greece to the twenty-first century, and with individual tales of heroes and heroines, this is a lively, witty and entertaining guide for young readers everywhere. As always with Richard Brassey’s popular books, this is packed with comic strips, fact boxes, hilarious captions and speech bubbles, plus amazing information and entertaining insight.” (Syndetics summary)

 

Syndetics book coverThe Olympics : ancient and modern by Joe Fullman
The Olympics Ancient to Modern is a fascinating look at the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, from the first events in Ancient Greece right the way up to London 2012 and Sochi 2014. It focusses on when and where each Games has been held, and some key stats, such as how much it cost, how many athletes competed, and how many spectators came to watch.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

 

Syndetics book coverModern Olympic Games by Haydn Middleton
“‘The Olympics’ tells you all about the world’s greatest sporting festival. From ancient Greece to the 21st century, you will read about the winners, losers, triumphs, and tragedies of the Olympic Games.” (Syndetics summary)

 

 

 

Overdrive book coverThe Olympics by Graham Douglas (eBook)
“The Olympic Games: a major international amateur sporting competition that brings together hundreds of nations and thousands of athletes. This book is a collection of fun, facts and figures about the Games (from ancient to modern times) for sports lovers all over the world. ‘The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well’ Pierre de Coubertin.” (Syndetics summary)

The ancient history of the Olympics

Syndetics book cover

The Olympic games began in Olympia, Greece in 776 BC (that’s almost 3000 years ago!). It was a sporting competition to celebrate excellence and honour the god Zeus.

The first few olympics just had a running race and only lasted one day, but more events got added on later and it became a five day event. Because ancient Greece would often have conflicts going on between city-states there would be a sacred truce (Ekecheiria) during the games so that athletes and spectators could travel to and from Olympia safely.

 

 

 

Competitors from all over Greece and sometimes beyond would compete in sporting events including foot-races (running), the pentathlon (running, long jump, discus, javelin and wrestling), boxing, wrestling, the pankration, and equestrian races (horse and chariot). Pankration is a combination of boxing and wresting and was a particularly brutal event.

Fun Fact: the participants would also compete naked! In fact the Greek word for nude was gymnós which is where our word for gymnasiums comes from.

The ancient olympics also did not allow women to compete in the events, and only unmarried women were allowed to be spectators. Despite this, in 396 BC Kyniska of Sparta became the first female Olympic victor for the chariot race, because the owners of the horses were considered the winners of the race, not the riders.

Instead of receiving gold, silver and bronze medals, there was only one victor in each of the events and they were rewarded with a wreath (wild olive leaf crown), and of course the glory and honour of being an olympic victor (in other words – bragging rights!)

In 393 AD the new Roman emperor and Christian, Theodosius, banned the olympic games because he considered them a pagan practice. So ended 1,000 years of tradition, during which 293 olympics games were held. That is until Pierre de Coubertin, a French academic and historian, pushed to resurrect them and so began the modern olympic games in 1896 Athens, Greece.

 

Want to know more? Find these books in your local library:

Syndetics book coverThe first Olympics of ancient Greece by Lisa M. Bolt Simons

“In ancient Greece different city-states often fought one another in deadly battles. But every four years the Greeks set aside their differences to honor the gods and compete peacefully in the Olympic Games. Learn all about the athletes, competitions, and religious ceremonies of the ancient Olympics.” (Syndetics summary)

 

 

Syndetics book coverOlympics by Richard Platt
“‘In the same spirit as the previous Through Time titles, this book explores the evolution of the Olympic Games, from its ancient origins to modern times. The chronological format allows the reader to experience life in many diverse cities and cultures during different historical periods. Through Time: The Olympic Games tells the complete story of history’s most famous, and most international, sporting competition. The narrative runs from city to city, exploring the impact of the Games on each host nation as well as the key social, political and cultural events of the time. Woven into this narrative are all the major sporting highlights, facts and record-breakers.” (Syndetics summary)

 

 

Flaming Olympics by Michael Coleman

This hilarious guide tells readers everything they need to know, from the torture of Olympic training, to some of the best performances dating back as far as 776 BC.