I pride myself on knowing a fair amount about Christmas, but I had never heard of the link between spiders and the festive holiday until recently! Indeed, as you will see below, spiders are incredibly popular as a Christmas tradition and decoration in countries like Poland, Germany, and Ukraine and there is a heap of symbolism and folklore surrounding these eight-legged creatures.
Spider Christmas Traditions From Around the World
It appears that there is a huge history of spider folklore particularly in Eastern Europe and below I take a look at three recurring traditions that persist to this day.
Poland - The spider that kept baby Jesus warm
Why are spider webs a popular Christmas decoration in Poland? This is due to the Polish legend that states that a spider lovingly wove a blanket for baby Jesus as he lay in the manger to keep him warm.
Not only that but in Polish culture, the spider is also seen to be a symbol of prosperity and goodness, hence why you will typically see amazing spider decorations adorning Christmas trees in Polish homes.
The traditional form of the decoration is an octagonal spider web color gold or silver, with a decorative spider sitting on one of the web strands. They look fantastic and go really well if you have unique Christmas wrapping paper for your presents too under the tree.
Ukraine - The Legend of the Christmas Spider
Believed to have originated from western Ukraine, the legend of the Christmas spider is a piece of folklore that has also been adopted in other countries like Germany, Poland, Denmark, and Russia.
It tells the story of a poor widow who struggles to make ends meet to feed her children. On a random summer’s day, she finds a pine cone has taken root in their hut. Elated, the children and widow take care of the tree to nourish it in the hope it will flourish into a beautiful Christmas tree.
Indeed, the tree grew, but as they were so poor, they could not afford to buy any decorations! With despair in their hearts, the children went to sleep on Christmas Eve. However, on Christmas morning, they awoke to find that the tree was covered in cobwebs from spiders!
As sunlight broke through the window, it transformed the webs into silver and gold. This was a momentous occasion and from here onwards, the family never experienced poverty again.
I love this story! It’s just heartwarming, has elements of folklore and mystery, and a happy ending and it’s easy to see why this Christmas tale has persisted over the years in countries like Ukraine and Poland.
Eastern Europe - Spiders bring good luck
In many Eastern European countries, finding a spider or a web on your Christmas tree is believed to bring good luck! This is why you can find spider decorations on Christmas trees in these countries and it is also the origin of tinsel as a tree decoration.
Older stories and folklore that predate the legend of the Christmas spider also state that it’s bad luck if you destroy a web before you have safely moved the spider.
Love Them or Hate Them, Spiders are a Part of Christmas Tradition
I can’t say I am a fan of spiders personally, but I can see how important they are worldwide in Christmas traditions, and things like the legend of the Christmas spider are heartwarming. To get ready for the holidays, why not get some unique Christmas wrapping paper that showcases these small scuttling arachnids and pays homage to this Polish tradition?