Ukrainians put spider webs in their Christmas trees.
Most of the world uses tinsel instead, but the concept derived from icicles and spiderwebs. To some the silvery strands evoke images of glistening icicles or shimmering crystals of frost on the branches of a sylvan evergreen, but how did tinsel become part of a holiday tradition in so many households?
The Legend of the Christmas Spider is an Eastern European folk tale which explains the origin of tinsel on Christmas trees. The origins of the folk tale are unknown, but it is believed to have come from either Germany or Ukraine. It may be based on an older European superstition about spiders bringing luck (though not black spiders in Germany), or conversely that it is bad luck to destroy a spider’s web before the spider is safely out of the way first.
Think you might enjoy adopting this tradition? Here are a few DIY Tutorials for making your own Spiders and/or their webs for your tree:
The Story of the Spider and the Christmas Tree
nce upon a time, long ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year…. The day on which the Christ child came to bless the house. Not a speck of dust was left. Even the spiders had been banished from their cozy corner in the ceiling to avoid the housewife’s busy cleaning. They finally fled to the farthest corner of the attic.
T’was the Christmas eve at last! The tree was decorated and waiting for the children to see it. But the poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree, nor be present for the Christ child’s visit. But the oldest and wisest spider suggested that perhaps they could peep through the crack in the door to see him. Silently they crept out of their attic, down the stairs, and across the floor to wait in the crack in the threshold. Suddenly, the door opened a wee bit and quickly the spiders scurried into the room. They must see the tree closely, since their eyes weren’t accustomed to the brightness of the room… so the crept all over the tree, up and down, over every branch and twig and saw every one of the pretty things. At last they satisfied themselves completely of the Christmas tree beauty.
But alas!! Everywhere they went they had left their webs, and when the little Christ child came to bless the house he was dismayed. He loved the little spiders, for they were God’s creatures too, but he knew the mother, who had trimmed the tree for the little children, wouldn’t feel the same, so He touched the webs and they all turned to sparkling, shimmering, silver and gold!
If you’d like to add this story to your yearly Christmas Advent reading collection, you can find a few different versions.