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)

Christmas Comes to Brooklyn and Wadestown Libraries

Join us at Brooklyn and Wadestown libraries for a family Christmas storytime and carol singing.

Brooklyn: Monday 14th of December 6pm

Wadestown: Thursday 17th of December 6pm

 

Come along in your favourite PJ’s and Christmas bling!

We might even see a famous Christmas guest pop in for a visit!  Ho! Ho! Ho!

 

Festive Family Storytimes are Around the Corner!

Meri Kirihimete, Pōneke!

 

It’s that time of year again! The festive season is right around the corner, which means that our libraries are getting themselves all ready to provide storytimes most merry and mirthful for your jollification. So, why not grab the family, jump in your fuzziest pyjamas (or cheeriest Christmas costume) and head on down to your local library to join in on the fun?

There will be stories, songs, crafts, and maybe even some special visits from a certain portly gentleman at some locations. You’ll be in for an extra-special treat if you go along to the event at Arapaki Library on Manners Street — you’ll get to hear different festive stories from all over the world, even some in different languages!

All of these events are free, family-friendly, and suitable for children of all ages with their caregivers.

Where and When?

 


Wednesday 9th December

Arapaki (Manners Street) Library, 5.30 – 6.30pm


Thursday 10th December

Island Bay Library, 6.00 – 6.45pm

Khandallah Library, 6.00 – 6.45pm

Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library, 6.00 – 6.45pm


Friday 11th December

Newtown Library, 6.00 – 6.45pm


Monday 14th December

Brooklyn Library, 6.00 – 6.45pm

Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library, 6.00 – 6.45pm

Miramar Library, 6.00 – 6.45pm


Tuesday 15th December

Te Awe (Brandon Street) Library, 4.00 – 4.45pm

Johnsonville Library, 4.00 – 4.45pm


Thursday 17th December

Karori Library, 6.00 – 6.45pm

Wadestown Library, 6.00 – 6.45pm


Friday 18th December

He Matapihi (Molesworth Street) Library, 10.30 – 11.15am


Saturday 19th December

Johnsonville Library, 2.00 – 2.45pm


Sunday 20th December

Te Awe Library, 2.00 – 2.45pm


Monday 21st December

Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library, 10.30 – 11.15am


So many Christmas books and movies that you’ll love!

Christmas is coming to the Capital and to the library! Why not get into the Christmas spirit and check out the amazing Christmas themed books and DVDs we have in our collection in between Christmas shopping and life! The countdown to Christmas and the end of 2019 is on!

Check out the following:

What’s Christmas? Find out with…

Christmas.

Learn what Christmas is, and how it is celebrated. Learn about the religion of Christianity, and what Christmas means to its followers.

Learn about prayers and carols, Santa Claus and his reindeer, and traditional decorations and gifts. Also learn about festive Christmas foods and traditions of giving to charity at Christmas.

 

Some handy ideas for Christmas Crafts:

Need some ideas on making Christmas cards, decoration and gifts? Why not check out books such as:

100 things to recycle and make.

Provides step-by-step, illustrated instructions for crafts made with everyday materials, including egg cartons, sticks, and cardboard tubes.

 

Christmas activities.

From baking Christmas pudding sweets to creating hand-printed angels. These projects include how to make a pop-up polar bear card, a snowman paper chain or glittery decorations. Two pages of stickers are included and each project is accompanied by simple step-by-step instructions and an illustration or photograph of the final creation.


Christmas.

This book explores the festival of Christmas and the story behind it and features six simple origami projects for your own festive fun! The book shows how people around the world celebrate Christmas both in church and at home. Attractively designed, its simple text and wonderful full-colour photos make this an essential book for children celebrating or learning about the festival. The origami activities are accessible to all and are explained with step-by-step illustrations. Your fantastic creations can be used as decorations for the festival, for presents, to impress your teacher for a Christmas school project or simply to wow your friends!

 

Read stories about Christmas or Christmas themed:

Picture Books:

A very Marley Christmas.

With all the excitement of Christmas approaching, it’s no surprise that Marley, the loveable pup with a nose for trouble, wants to get in on the action. Anticipating his very first snowfall and Santa’s arrival, Marley jumps in to help his family every way he can. But Marley, being Marley, always ends up on the wrong side of right.


The Christmas Peg.

From Cameron Williams and Matthew Martin comes a hilarious and energetic story about the worst Christmas present ever.


How the Grinch stole Christmas!

When the grumpy Grinch tries to steal Christmas from the citizens of Who-ville, he realises there’s more to it than presents and tinsel!


The Christmas caravan.

When Simon sees a competition in the newspaper for the best decorated Christmas house, he is keen to enter it. His mother says she can’t afford expensive lights and decorations. So Simon decides to decorate their caravan in his own way.


The Polar Express.

Late one Christmas Eve, a boy boards a mysterious train that waits for him- the Polar Express bound for the North Pole. When he arrives, Santa offers him any gift he desires. The boy modestly asks for one bell from the reindeer’s harness. It turns out to be a very special gift, for only believers in Santa can hear it ring.Liam Neeson’s gravitas lends the story just the right sense of magic and possibility in the book and CD edition.


Santa’s worst Christmas.

There are just a few days to go before Christmas, and everyone’s busy putting up decorations, preparing food and getting ready for the big day. Then comes the shock news – Santa’s cancelled Christmas. Santa had so many disasters last year that he can’t face it again, and he’s quit. The elves try everything, but they can’t get him to change his mind. In this Aotearoa Christmas picture book, the kids come up with a clever plan and amazing gadgets to get Christmas back on and Santa back in the sleigh delivering presents.


 

Chapter Books:

Christmas in Camelot.

A cup, a compass, a key: the magic tree house has brought siblings Annie and Jack to Camelot, where they embark on a mysterious mission to find these enigmatic gifts. In this special hardcover addition to the bestselling Magic Tree House series, the young adventurers must travel to the Otherworld, an “ancient, enchanted land beyond the edge of the Earth, the place where all magic began” to save Camelot from dark wizard Mordred’s evil spell. If they fail, Camelot will be forgotten forever. Fans of the beloved, highly readable series by Mary Pope Osborne will rise to the challenge of this longer, more complex companion to her other titles, which include Earthquake in the Early Morning and Twister on Tuesday. As in every story in the sequence, Jack and Annie bravely plunge into their quest, learning about a culture and time very far removed from their own, and prove once again that children can make a difference.


A Christmas carol by Geronimo Stilton.

Ebenezer Scrooge is a cranky old mouse who is only concerned with his business and making money. Scrooge thinks Christmas is just a waste of time. But on the night of Christmas Eve, he is visited by three ghosts who take him on a journey through his past, present, and future. His experience could change him forever and teach him the true meaning of Christmas!


The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch.

One year has passed since William Trundle’s incredible adventure with the most extraordinary dinosaur: the Christmasaurus. Now, William is swept back to the magical North Pole, where he meets a mysterious witch – whose power to control time allows Santa Claus to make the long journey all around the world every Christmas Eve. And when they learn that the fate of Christmas itself hangs in the balance, William and the Christmasaurus must work with the Winter Witch to protect it.


Quentin Blake’s A Christmas carol.

A beautiful edition of the timeless Christmas classic. A Christmas Carol is the book that defines the Christmas spirit. Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean-spirited miser, is visited by three ghosts one Christmas Eve. The ghosts show Scrooge the true value of Christmas: charity, good humour and love for his fellow man.


 

Stuck inside? Try some Christmas movies:

image courtesy of amazon.co.ukHome Alone.

When the McCallisters went on holiday they forgot eight year old Kevin. When two bungling burglars break into the house Kevin outwits them.


The Grinch

A re-telling of the classic tale about a grumpy old creature living in a cave on Mt. Crumpet who can’t stand to see his neighbors in Whoville enjoying themselves. Things are especially bad at Christmas, when the Whos kick their merriment into high gear with fantastic celebrations. This year, the Grinch decides to dress up like Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and steal all the Christmas gifts and decorations so the Whos can’t enjoy the season. What he finds, however, is that Christmas in Whoville is much more than gifts and decorations, it’s a time to celebrate love and friendship.


curtesy of amazon.co.ukThe Polar Express.

Santa Claus does not exist. Or does he? For one doubting boy (voice of Daryl Sabara and Tom Hanks), an astonishing event occurs. Late on Christmas Eve night, he lies in bed hoping to hear the sound of reindeer bells from Santa’s sleigh. When to his surprise, a steam engine’s roar and whistle can be heard outside his window. The conductor (voice of Tom Hanks) invites him on board to take an extraordinary journey to the North Pole with many other pajama-clad children. There, he receives an extraordinary gift only those who still believe in Santa can experience.


image courtesy of amazon.co.ukRise of the Guardians.

When an evil spirit known as Pitch lays down the gauntlet to take over the world, the immortal Guardians must join forces for the first time to protect the hopes, beliefs, and imagination of children all over the world.


image courtesy of amazon.co.ukOlaf’s Frozen Christmas.

Olaf teams up with Sven on a merry mission. It’s the first holiday season since the gates re-opened and Anna and Elsa host a celebration for all of Arendelle. When the townspeople unexpectedly leave early to enjoy their individual holiday customs, the sisters realise they have no family traditions of their own. So, Olaf sets out to comb the kingdom to bring home the best traditions and save this first Christmas for his friends.


Check out the movie trailer for Frozen II!


 

Not Christmas, but just as amazing and new to the Childrens DVD collection is…

The Lion King.

The Lion King is finally at WCL! Why rent the DVD… rent the original film this Christmas and relive the class tale of Simba, a delightful lion cub who is heir to the throne of the pride lands. However, when Simba’s father is killed… by Simba’s treacherous uncle, Scar, poor Simba, feeling guilt ridden lion cub flees into exile until the moment where he must confront his uncle and reclaim his identity , as well as destiny as the future King. Another movie trailer filled with (wild) animals and cute baby animals!!!

image courtesy of amazon.co.uk

image courtesy of amazon.co.uk


 

And coming soon to movie theaters…

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, produced, co-written and directed by J. J. Abrams. It will be the third installment of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, following The Force Awakens (2015) and The Last Jedi (2017), and the ninth and final episode of the main Star Wars film franchise.

“The saga comes to an end”… on December 19th 2019, and from the looks of this trailer, they definitely saved the best for last.

 

To get into the spirit of a Kiwi Christmas, relive the magic of Kiwi Christmas song, Summer Wonderland so you can sing along and take part in the festive cheer while  strolling through a summer wonderland. To recap, Summer Wonderland is a Kiwi spin on a much beloved classic Christmas carol Winter Wonderland, with a lyrical twist for the Southern Hemisphere and recorded for Air New Zealand.  This Christmas carol really showcases and beautifully captures the spirit and essence of a Kiwi Christmas of tucking into ham and pavlova, playing cricket, mozzie spray and tan marks. Check it out!

On behalf of the staff at Wellington City Libraries, we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Christmas Storytimes – Start today!

Ho ho ho!

Take a sleigh ride into your local library for our annual festival family storytimes. These popular events are back for 2019, with more opportunities to join in with the fun.

Suitable for families with children of all ages, these storytimes are free and bookings are not required.

Come along for stories, songs and carols, crafts and activities with a festive Christmas theme:

Thursday 12th December

Karori Library, 6 – 7pm

Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library, 6.30 – 7.30pm

Friday 13th December

He Matapihi (Molesworth St) Library, 10 – 10.45am, Bilingual Storytime

Saturday 14th December

Arapaki (Manners St) Library, 10.30 – 11.15am

Monday 16th December

Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library, 6 – 7pm

Miramar Library, 6 – 6.45pm

Brooklyn Library, 6.30 – 7.15pm

Thursday 19th December

Island Bay Community Centre, 4.30 – 5.30pm, Christmas Crafts

Island Bay Library, 6 – 6.45pm

Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library, 6 – 6.45pm

Khandallah Library, 6 – 7pm

Wadestown Library, 6.30 – 7.15pm

Friday 20th December

Newtown Library, 6 – 6.45pm Multicultural Storytime

Saturday 21st December

Johnsonville Library at Waitohi Hub, 2 – 3pm

Special Christmas Storytimes and Craft

Our popular annual Christmas Storytimes are back for 2019. Grab the family and head along to your nearest location for some festive fun.

There will be fun crafts, carols, stories and activities. Have a bilingual or multicultural christmas experience with two special events.

The storytimes are free, everyone is welcome, and suitable for preschoolers and children or all ages with their caregivers.

 

Here’s the where and when:

12th December:

Karori Library 6 – 7 pm
Mervyn Kemp (Tawa) Library  6.30 – 7.30 pm

____

13th December:

He Matapihi Library 10 – 10.45 am

Special bilingual session

____

14th December:

Arapaki Library 10.30 – 11.15 am

____

16th December:

Cummings Park (Ngaio) Library 6 – 7 pm
Miramar Library 6 – 6.45 pm
Brooklyn Library 6.30 – 7.15 pm

____

19th December:

Island Bay Library 6 – 6.45 pm

Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library 6 – 6.45 pm

Khandallah Library 6 – 7 pm

Wadestown Library 6.30 -7.15 pm

and

Island Bay Community Centre 4.30 – 5.30 pm

Special Christmas crafts event

____

20th December:

Newtown Library 6 – 6.45 pm

special multicultural storytime

____

21st December:

Johnsonville Library at Waitohi Hub 2 – 3 pm

A Very Welly Christmas 2019!

Tis the season for festive fun… and it’s all free in Lambton Quay!image courtesy of averywellychristmas.co.nz

A Very Welly Christmas comes to town… again during the weekend and is jam packed full of Christmas cheer and fun for the whole family!

What is A Very Welly Christmas? It is an annual 2 day Christmas festival in the Wellington CBD. Each day starts with Santa’s Arrival a short walking parade, so you can still line the footpaths and wave to Santa – just like the old days!

This year is will be held on:

Saturday 23 November, 12 noon–6pm
Sunday 24 November, 12 noon–5pm

and followed by…

Carols in Midland Park – Saturday 23 November, 6pm–8pm

Click here to find out more about the history of the event.

Click here for the schedule of events.

Click here to find out how to get there.

While you’re in town that weekend, why don’t you call into Arapaki Manners Library and He Matapihi Molesworth Library and borrow a book or two… or a dozen. 😉

Arapaki Manners Library will be open Saturday and Sunday from 9:30am until 5pm and He Matapihi will be open from 9am until 1pm on Saturday and closed on Sunday.