In Some Countries, People Decorate Their Christmas Trees With Spiders

Image: Kate Renkes/Flickr

Forget the reindeer decorations — folks in some parts of the world adorn their Christmas trees with spider ornaments, instead.

The unusual arachnid ornaments are part of a centuries-old Eastern European Christmas tradition. The legend of the Christmas spider is believed to have originated in Ukraine, and according to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, goes something like this:

“A poor family had no decorations for their Christmas tree, so while the children were sleeping, spiders spun webs of silver around its branches. When the family awoke Christmas morning, the tree was sparkling with silver webs.” 

Image: Libreshot

There are several versions of the tale, but the spiders are always portrayed as friendly or beneficial for humans. In each story, the spiders come in at the last minute to save the holiday.

This rendition tells of a widow whose spirits were lifted by a benevolent spider when she couldn’t afford decorations:

“The widow went to bed on Christmas Eve knowing that the tree would not be decorated. Early on Christmas morning, the woman was awakened by her children. ‘Mother, mother, wake up and see the tree, it is beautiful!’ The mother arose and saw that during the night a spider had spun a web around the tree. The youngest child opened the window to the first light of Christmas Day. As the shafts of the sun crept along the floor, it touched one of the threads of the spider web and instantly the web was changed into gold and silver. And from that day forward the widow never wanted for anything.”

Want to join in on the fun? Easy. Just bring your Halloween decor out of storage and stretch some webbing over your evergreens to celebrate the Ukrainian tradition!