Like it or loathe it, Halloween is upon us once more. The journey of that old pagan tradition linked to the Northern hemisphere’s autumn festival of Samhain to its current 2 dollar shop plastic kitsch in this country (and others, to be fair) must be a tangled one. If lollies weren’t involved, would children still bother to dress up and go door to door? For a European perspective, you could try Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough, which will tell you far more than you thought you wanted to know about European pre-Christian mythology.
The idea of a celebration that includes dead family and friends doesn’t have to be morbid or a spooky one, as Halloween pretends to be. My favourite has to be the Mexican Day Of The Dead, which actually covers 3 days , from 31st October to 2nd November, and is celebrated with food, drink and remembering those who have passed away. Has to be better than Christmas Day with the in-laws, surely
Fendalton Library is having a Dia De Los Muertos display, from Friday 1st November, courtesy of Christchurch’s vibrant Mexican community; why not drop and have a look if you’re in the area? The library does have a book dedicated exclusively to El Dia De Los Muertos, if you wanted to find out more.
Since we’re heading into the festive season, why not check out the library resources on festivals.
I think I’m going to put on my crusty curmudgeon hat and say “I hate Halloween”. I’m the sort of person who when kids come trick or treating says “your costumes look neat but we don’t do Halloween here”.
Why? Well let’s start with:
When did we start celebrating Halloween? Only in the last 10 or 15 years when the chain stores realised there was a buck to be made. Then they started promoting it like it had always been a Kiwi thing.
Allegedly it’s a time for kids to have fun but really it seems more like a thing for adults. They are either having Halloween parties and dressing up, or they are dressing up their kids.
It represents the triumph of American culture – Halloween is very much an American tradition which we have seen in films and television.
In many parts of the world All Saints Day is a time to remember the dead – not scary ghouls but real people you loved and who have died. The commercial takeover seems crass.
Halloween rituals make sense in the northern hemisphere where bonfires and lanterns are light against the encroaching darkness of the long Northern winter. Not so much in springtime New Zealand where the days are lighter and longer.
How do you feel about Halloween?
An alternative to Halloween which is green and rooted in Aotearoa’s cycle of seasons and cultural influences is suggested: National Green Day. Perfect for high spring: planting rituals like getting your tomatoes in, planting and enjoying fragrant native plants, harvesting the ti (tea tree), the return of pipiwharauroa (the shining cuckoo), enjoying the song of the riroriro (grey warbler).
Anyway grumps over – if Halloween is your bag we have lots of stuff to help celebrate the day:
And in more Photo Hunt news – grab some of our gorgeous postcards from your library. There are three great heritage images here. The Oxford Terrace one I find particularly moving, as it shows the very spot where my Mum and Dad used to have lunch when they first met.
Digital stories were lots of fun. Children produced puppets, read some wonderful stories and discovered Tumblebooks.
Here are some videos:
And a review of the programme!
January 2014 Holiday Programme
Look out for our new and exciting summer holiday programmes! Our holidays will involve the great Summer Reading Adventure. Be into win some great prizes. Digital story times, film and fun art sessions are some of the cool things on offer. Keep an eye out for brochures in your local library for more information.
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Sheryl’s background is very impressive, with three books on financial success under her belt and over three decades’ experience in financial planning. She is especially committed to helping women better manage their money and investments in what is often a male-dominated world, so this particular Orange Chair is a must-attend for any woman looking to better balance her budget.
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29 October 1830 Te Rauparaha charters the “Elizabeth” (under the unscrupulous Captain Stewart) and sails for Akaroa.
30 October 1985
Writer-in-Residence at Canterbury University, Keri Hulme wins internationally prestigious Booker McConnell prize for her novel The Bone People.
31 October 1912
Opening of Queen’s Theatre, the city’s first purposebuilt picture theatre. The building was latterly the M. W. Arcade.
1 November 1906 New Zealand International Exhibition (the biggest in the country to that time) opens in Hagley Park. Over 1 million people visited the exhibition during the next few months. A branch railway line was built across North Hagley Park to service the exhibition. The attractions included New Zealand’s first professional symphony orchestra [conducted by Alfred Hill], and the first Dominion pipe band contest which was won by the Dunedin Highland Pipe Band.
1 November 1921
Woolston Borough joins City.
2 November 1899
Balloonist Captain Lorraine lost at sea after an ascent from Lancaster Park.
Labour Day is a New Zealand public holiday that celebrates the eight-hour working day. It is observed on the fourth Monday in October. The eight-hour working day and the 48-hour working week became law in New Zealand in 1899. Later, the working week was further reduced to 40 hours. All our libraries are closed today.