Saint Patrick’s Day 2021: Painting the Town Green!

A day of leprechauns, four-leaf clovers and painting the town green! St Patrick’s Day is coming to the Capital and Wellington City Libraries on 17th of March! Why not call into your local library and take out some amazing books about Saint Patrick’s Day and Ireland. 


image courtesy of wikimedia
What is Saint Patrick’s Day?

Saint Patrick’s Day or the Feast of Saint Patrick is a cultural, religious and public holiday celebrated on 17 March, the anniversary of his death.It celebrates the life of  Saint Patrick, the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of Ireland, and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. On the day, people go to church services, wear green attire, attend public parades, eat Irish food and party the Irish way with music, singing and dancing, leprechauns and four-leaf clovers (or shamrocks).

image courtesy of wikimedia.org


Interesting facts:

  • Patrick was an Englishman who was captured as a boy by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. He managed eventually to escape and made his way to France where he studied to become a priest. When he was made a bishop he was sent back to Ireland to spread the Christian faith among the tribes there.
  • The shamrock is now the emblem of Ireland and is used to explain the Christian belief of the Trinity or the idea that God is three in one – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
  • Over half a million New Zealanders have Irish ancestors, whose stories have been passed down the generations. Read more about this history of the Irish in New Zealand on  Te Ara.

Where can I find information about Saint Patrick’s day?

  • ManyAnswers has a page dedicated to websites, resources and ways to search for information about festivals and celebrations in New Zealand, which includes Saint Patrick’s Day.
  • You can also find pages dedicated to Saint Patrick’s Day at Britannica and National Geographic for Kids.
  • Visit your local library and check out the find the following books:


Books about St. Patrick’s Day (and the Saint himself):

image courtesy of syndeticsThe St. Patrick’s Day shillelagh.

“On his way from Ireland to America to escape the potato famine, young Fergus carves a shillelagh from his favorite blackthorn tree, and each St. Patrick’s Day for generations, his story is retold by one of his descendants.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsThe life of St Patrick.

“This series explores the lives of saints, and includes the four patron saints of the UK. Each book tells the life story of the saint in a chronological manner, introducing evidence that survives from that era. The primary source materials are used to explain how we know about the saint’s life and how we can learn from events in the past. The books can be used in the Literacy Hour as examples of biographical recount, and they support the learning strand study the lives of famous people.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsSaint Patrick and the peddler.

“When a poor Irish peddler follows the instructions given to him by Saint Patrick in a dream, his life is greatly changed. Includes background on Saint Patrick and on the origin of the story.” (Catalogue)

Books about Ireland:

image courtesy of syndeticsIreland.

“Known as the “Emerald Isle,” Ireland is an island famous for its green, grassy fields. With tips and insights from an Irish native named Seamus, readers will take a trip across the Irish countryside and explore its biggest cities. Along the way, they will see how Irish people live, learn about Ireland’s fascinating history, learn to speak Gaelic, and much more.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsIreland.

“This series offers comprehensive coverage of countries around the world. Each book offers complete coverage of one country, including sections on history, geography, wildlife, infrastructure, culture, and peoples.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsIreland.

“What’s it like to live in Ireland? This book is part of a series which takes you on a tour so you can find out about the landscape, the weather, the people and the places.” (Catalogue)

Irish Folk Tales and Stories:

image courtesy of syndeticsThe names upon the harp.

“A collection of classic Irish legends, retold for children of eight and over. It includes tales of fiercely fought battles, passionate romances, spells and curses, heroes and villains, and loyalty and betrayal.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsThe cloak of feathers.

“Once every hundred years, the small, forgotten, rural Irish town of Lisahee welcomes The Fairy Festival – a week of celebration where the mysterious and magical ‘sidhe’ emerge from the hill above the town and take residence alongside their human counterparts for seven days of ancient traditions and games. Filled with dancing, music, goblin markets and fae-folk, the festival has only one rule: never, ever, say ‘the f word’ – that’s ‘fairies’ – a rule twelve-year-old Brian unfortunately breaks. When mayhem ensues, it’s up to Brian and his friends to avoid the wrath of the King and Queen and help keep the town in one piece. A magical adventure filled with myth, mischief and misunderstandings, perfect for fans of modern fairy tales with a comic twist.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsMagical tales of Ireland.

“Fairy tales get a modern twist in this dazzling collection of newly written and illustrated Irish stories for the 6-9 year olds. This is a sparkling collection of newly commissioned stories and illustrations from Ireland’s best-known writers and illustrators. From Roddy Doyle’s poignant story of a young girl dealing with the loss of a parent, powerfully illustrated by PJ Lynch to Paul Muldoon’s witty narrative poem about a girl with a knack for seeing things backwards, accompanied by Niamh Sharkey’s zany illustrations and Malachy Doyles’s hero, famous Seamus who scores a very unusual ghostly goal 21st century tales combine contemporary realism and magic, making this a collection unlike any other. These tales are as diverse as the authors themselves.” (Catalogue)

image courtesy of syndeticsBetween worlds : folktales of Britain & Ireland.

“Rich and strange, these eerie and magical folktales from across Britain and Ireland have been passed down from generation to generation, and are gathered together in a definitive new collection from storyteller Kevin Crossley-Holland. Dark and funny, lyrical and earthy, these fifty stories are part of an important and enduring historical tradition that dates back hundreds of years.” (Catalogue)

Solstice and Yule: The Grandfathers of Christmas

Everyone knows the story of Christmas, but actually celebrations of this time of year go back thousands of years into the past. Two cultures, the Celts and the Norse each contribute to some of the world’s original festive celebrations at the Christmas time of year.

Two drawings of the Oak king and the Holly king.

The Oak and Holly Kings of the Celts. Image © Anne Stokes 2020.

The Celts celebrated the Midwinter Solstice (and so do the Zuñi and Hopi peoples of America), whereas uniquely the Celts feature the Green King which was even used in the later Medieval Period, despite the greater popularity of Christianity.

It centred around the dawning of the new solstice, when the sun would return from the darkness during Winter and the use of two figures namely the Holly King and the Oak King. These two deities would battle one another, triumphing for six months of the year to rule over the seasons until the next fight (in which the victorious king would then reign). This would be celebrated at Midwinter (and Midsummer) when the respective king for the season was at the peak of their powers and thus claim victory over the other.

The Druids of Britain would use holly as a sacred symbol of life during the dark Winters, and offered it as a blessing (BBC, 2006).

Image of the Norse God Odin riding Sleipnir during the Wild Hunt

The God Odin and Sleipnir during the Wild Hunt.

The Norse would celebrate the Wild Hunt, where the God Odin (or the All-Father) would hunt down trolls and other creatures as he gave gifts to children across settlements during Mid-Winter.

The winters in Northern Europe were dark and foreboding, and so it lent itself to the idea that Odin and his gang would ride across the winds, amid much howling and shrieking of the trolls and other creatures as they were hunted down by the party. Along the way, Odin – similar to and pre-dating Santa Claus – would send little gifts to the children he passed through the villages and towns during the Viking Age.

Odin could be seen riding on the winds, with his horse Sleipnir, the eight-legged child of the God Loki. He was the fastest and strongest horse in the world. Every year when the Midwinter sun came over the lands, it was said to be Odin and his party hunting down trolls and other nasty creatures. On this night in particular, Odin would leave gifts out for the children, and they in turn would leave a small parcel of food for Odin and of course a carrot or bits of hay for the horse Sleipnir.


If you’re browsing the shelves at your library for books on the Celts and the Norse, you can use the Dewey Decimal system to help you find the right book. Dewey Decimal numbers are magical numbers that help us organise which books go where. Here are some useful numbers for this topic:

And here are some of our favourite books in the collection about the Celts and the Norse:

Celts / Newland, Sonya
“Who were the Celts and who were their leaders? Why did they come to the British Isles and how did they live? Explore this ancient civilisation to understand how prehistoric people have influenced the way we live today. Discover the artefacts that give evidence of their way of life, and how historians have pieced together the evidence of their lives. Learn about the homes and communities that they lived in, the food that they ate, how they travelled and worshipped, and the influence of the Romans on their society.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Myths and civilization of the Celts / Martell, Hazel
Myths and Civilization of the Celts focuses on life during the Iron Age period when the Celts dominated much of Europe before the rise of the Roman Empire. The book looks at their way of life, their arts and crafts, trade and transport, religion, food and entertainment. It also includes a map of the Celtic tribes of Europe. Using double-page spreads, Celtic myths are retold & followed by historical & cultural background material.” (Catalogue)

Norse myths and legends / Ganeri, Anita
“The world’s myths are filled with characters, creatures, and stories that have fascinated people for thousands of years. This series mixes dramatic retellings and non-fiction information to give a full picture of a culture’s myths.” (Catalogue)

Illustrated Norse myths / Frith, Alex
“A brand-new collection of Viking myths that tell the story of the Norse gods from creation to the story of how the world will end, including Odin’s quest for wisdom, the battles of Thor the thunder god, and the tale of Sigurd the Dragonslayer and the curs A collection of Viking myths that tell the story of the Norse gods from creation to the story of how the world will end, including Odin’s quest for wisdom, and the battles of Thor the thunder god.” (Catalogue)

6 New children’s non fiction to read over the school holidays

Last chance school holidays! We’re on the countdown to term 3. Here are some great new books to spend the last few days pouring over. Won’t your teacher be impressed!

image courtesy of syndetics Viva Frida.

This is a very beautiful book, complete with stunning illustrations provides information about the passionate and imaginative life of artist, Frida Kahlo.

 

 

 

 image courtesy of syndeticsHeroes, Gods and Monsters of Celtic Mythology.

A collection of retellings of Celtic myths and legends from Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, the Isle of Man, and Brittany.

 

 

 

image courtesy of syndeticsAwesome Animals: Horses.

Horse mad? Then this is the book for you.  Check out all the fun facts and amazing true stories about record-breaking race horses, cheeky ponies and brave war horses.

 

 

 

Sharks and other deadly ocean creatures.image courtesy of syndetics

Sink your teeth into this read and chomp your way through all this amazing information about the most fearsome creatures ever to roam the oceans. You will encounter gentle giants, the most monstrous deep-sea dwellers and much, much more!

 

 

image courtesy of syndeticsPeeking Under the Bonnet.

What’s beneath the bonnet? Go on and have a peak inside! A must have book for all the car-mad boys and girls out there!

 

 

 

 

image courtesy of syndeticsProfessor Astro Cats atomic adventure.

 From the wind that rustles the trees, to the sun that keeps us warm, to the car that drives us around and the food that gives us energy to play, physics is all around us, all the time! So check out this amazing new book that will boost your knowledge all about Physics, while having fun along the way. Great resource for Physics  homework and projects.