Dia de los muertos – The Day of the Dead

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos has a long history in Mexican tradition. It is celebrated on 2 November,  a day set aside to remember and honour those who have died.

Day of the Dead is truly a celebration of life. When children dance with caricatures of death, eat skull sugar molds and learn to respect that life is brief, they learn there is a circle to life. This helps them to not fear death and they are free to enjoy and appreciate every moment.

Day of the Dead altars are built during Dia de los Muertos to honour the lives of those who have passed. They are often quite beautiful creations, constructed with love and care. Traditionally, every family in Mexico builds an altar on the days leading up to November 1. Some people even start weeks in advance and hire professionals to build elaborate altars. Other altars are more modest, but are still built with sincere, loving intentions.

Come to Central Library Peterborough to see a traditional Day of the Dead display and learn more about this unique celebration.

Day of the Dead display and girl in costume
Day of the Dead display and girl in costume. Flickr 2016-10-31-image7

See our  Dia de los Muertos display photos

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Trick or treat?

The Halloween EncyclopediaHalloween is upon us! It seems that everywhere we go, there are costumes and candy, and, in spite of many people being “dead” against it, it’s gaining momentum and getting bigger each year.

The word Halloween comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve, the eve of the Christian celebration of All Hallows’ Day. It initiates the three-day observance dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs and the faithful departed believers. If you are interested in learning more about it, we have a great book: Halloween, Its Origin, Rites and Ceremonies in the Scottish Tradition.

Halloween is celebrated by many cultures in many different ways, but the best known is the American way – a fun celebration where costumes are worn and children go trick-or-treating: door knocking asking for candy in exchange for not doing mischief.

Cover of The Day of The DeadIn Japan the day is called Obon (Festival of Lanterns); in Mexico it is Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead); in Cambodia it is P’chum Ben, (Ancestors’ Day); in Romania it is Világítás (Day of the Dead). Samhain is a Gaelic celebration; in China it is Zhong Yuan Jie (Ghost Festival) and many other countries have a similar festivity. I suppose for us humans death is the last frontier and we want to make sense of it in any way we can. And if we can’t, then we will challenge and mock it by dressing up and eating lots of candy!

So what will you be doing? Will you be joining the fun by getting dressed up and making some ghoulish goodies and decorations? Or will you just have a quiet day of remembrance?

Cover of The Real Halloween Cover of Ghoulish Get-Ups Cover of Halloween Book of Fun! Cover of Trick or Treat

Neighbourhood Week 2015

Neighbourhood Week 2015 PosterNeighbourhood Week is happening again this year from Friday 23 October to Sunday 1 November, and it is a fantastic opportunity to bring people together, build stronger communities and get to know those around you. It is also a perfect excuse for a party!

In this day and age it is a bit hard to keep track of the people around you. We all work or have too many commitments and, before you know it, you are surrounded by strangers! This is the perfect time to go and meet your neighbours without them thinking you are a bit strange. 😉

There are many ways you can participate, from organising a street party to hosting a dinner or a sports day to just going and introducing yourself to your neighbours.

There are heaps of tips and ideas on the Neighbourhood Week page, from how to organise a party to how to ask for a grant for one (although applications for this year have closed, it’s never too early to start planning for next year) and you can even print invitations for your event.

We also have some wonderful books at Christchurch City Libraries that will give you ideas. You can

You can also find out about what’s happening in your library by browsing our events calendar. Chances are you’ll meet people that live in your area and that have similar interests to you… win win!

Cover of Tiny Food Party Cover of Game Night Parties Cover of The Everything Big Book of Party Games Cover of Barefoot Contessa Parties

Banned Books Week 2015

Isaac Asimov once said that “Any book worth banning is a book worth reading”. And here at Christchurch City Libraries we like to give readers the choice!

Cover of The LoraxDid you know that before being green was in, Dr Seuss’ The Lorax was banned? Yep, you read that right… The Lorax!!! It was banned in 1989 because it portrayed the forestry industry in a bad light.

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden rise in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries in the United States, and more than 11,300 books have been challenged since.

You might be forgiven for thinking that New Zealand, being such a freedom loving country, would reject the idea of censorship of any kind, but there have been several instances of it through the decades. You can see some of them here: Banned Books in New Zealand.

Cover of Into The RiverThe latest book that has been challenged has become a cause célèbre. I’m talking of course about the young adult novel Into the River by Ted Dawe, which has been classified three times and is now under an ‘interim restriction order‘. If you would like to know what this actually means, our editor Donna has written an insightful post: Into the River – what is this banning all about?

This year Banned Books Week will run from 27 September to 3 October, and aptly the focus is Young Adult books.

The following are the 10 books most challenged in 2014 according to the American Library Association.

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”.
  2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
    Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”.
  3. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”.
  4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”.
  5. It’s Perfectly Normal (aka Let’s Talk About Sex) by Robie Harris
    Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”.
  6. Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples
    Reasons: Anti-family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence.
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”.
  9. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
    Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  10. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: sexually explicit.

“You want weapons? We are in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room is the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself.”  – The Doctor.

Cover of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Cover of Persepolis Cover of Tango Cover of The Bluest Eye Cover of It's Perfectly Normal Cover of Saga Cover of The Kite Runner Cover of The Perks of Being a Wallflower Cover of A Stolen Life Cover of Drama

We have all these titles and plenty more challenged books in our catalogue if you dare to read them. Do you agree with censoring books for their content?

Inglés a tu alcance con Christchurch City Libraries

Logo of Mango LanguagesEn Christchurch City Libraries puedes encontrar mucho más que libros… sabías que puedes aprender, o practicar,  inglés gratuitamente? Lo único que necesitas es pertenecer a la biblioteca!

Sacar una tarjeta es muy fácil, gratis y lleva tan sólo minutos. Y una vez que la tienes,  tienes acceso a infinidad de servicios; desde computadoras con internet y Wi-Fi gratuito hasta el uso y acceso a diferentes programas especializados y bases de datos, incluyendo Mango Languages, ya sea en la biblioteca o desde tu casa o tu dispositivo. Haz click aquí para descargar Mango Languages en el App Store o en Google Play.

Mango ESOL Spanish

Mango Languages es un programa innovador e interactivo por medio del cual puedes aprender o practicar tu inglés con diferentes actividades incluyendo películas. Mango es diferente porque no se enfoca en los fundamentos del idioma, sino mas bien la idea es que, en poco tiempo, puedas comunicarte en inglés en una manera correcta.

Sólo pregunta en cualquiera de las bibliotecas de Christchurch City Libraries y nuestro staff te ayudará con gusto.

Would you like a Mexican with that?

Cover image for "Viva la Revolucion" cooking book.I arrived here 12 years ago from far, far away ( Cancun, Mexico to be more precise) and in that time I’ve managed to become a fully fledged Mexi-Kiwi. I know all about the Treaty, I’ve grown to love whitebait patties and pineapple lumps, I have lots of Kiwi friends and I’ve even had a dabble at learning Te Reo.

Whenever I mention my country, I usually get appreciative nods and an immediate “I loooove Mexican food“.  That puts me in a strange position. On one side I am feel proud to come from a country which boasts a world-famous gastronomy. On the other…I feel a bit of a sham. I have a feeling most people would be shocked it they knew that the Mexican food they know and love is not really that Mexican!

Mexican food is very different from what most people in NZ think it is. I had never seen a hard shell taco until I went to Taco Bell in Miami, and my first burrito was at age 25, in Los Angeles. Unfortunately most people’s impression on Mexican food is mince stuffed, sour cream covered, ultra deep-fried creations invented in the States.

Real Mexican food is not something you will find in any fast food outlet. It is fresh, full of flavour and amazingly varied. Oh, and the heat is optional. Yes, you heard right, chilli is something that we do eat a lot of , but unlike what some people might think, not all food is hot!

So have a go, get yourself a Mexican recipe book and try it out. I’d be surprised if your opinion changes, you’ll still love Mexican food but at least you’ll know that you love the real thing!