Christmas tree—check! Baubles—check! Tree lights—check! Spider—huh? On a Christmas tree? Yes, it’s true! In Eastern Europe, and especially in Ukraine, it’s traditional to hang a spider on your festive tree, and often decorative webs as well. But why do they do this? It’s because of a well-known folk-tale about the spider and the Christmas tree.
According to legend, many years ago a poor widow lived in a bare hut with her many children. They all worked from dawn until dusk, but only just made enough money to buy food for the day. One day, a small fir tree sprang up behind their little house. The children nurtured it every day until it grew strong and tall.
When Christmas Eve arrived, the children were happy that they had a Christmas tree (and if you’d like a real Christmas tree, here are 10 of the best species), but they knew there would be no decorations, gifts or holiday food for them the next day. They went to bed feeling sad and hungry. However, a spider heard their cries and spent the night spinning her web around the tree, transforming it into a magnificent tree that glittered in the morning sun.
This is why Ukrainians decorate their trees with pavuchky—little spiders made from paper and wire. Some also believe that this story is why we decorate our trees with tinsel.
We all have our favorite traditional tree ornaments, and did you know that some vintage ornaments could be worth money? But if you’d like to follow the Ukrainian tradition, there are plenty of ornaments to choose from, such as a 24ct gold-plated one with crystal studs, an embossed glass version, or even a Swarovski crystal arachnid! Or you could make your own, along with these other easy-to-make Christmas ornaments.
So next time you see a spider hanging on a Christmas tree, you’ll know the secret of why it’s there.
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