Booh has decided that the Christmas Spider will be coming to our house this year instead of Santa Claus. She explained that the Christmas Spider was Santa’s helper who gave out presents when Santa was busy. The Christmas Spider wears a hat like Santa and likes to give out squishy pretend spiders that hang on the wall, along with books, pencils and sea marbles. Something to look forward to.
I asked her if the Christmas Spider had a sleigh and flying reindeer like Santa and if she went down chimneys to get indoors. Persephone said that the Christmas Spider actually climbs up houses and then down the chimneys to get inside. Then she crawls on towards the next house with her fast skinny legs.
Booh then proceeded to run around and around the house with her socks on at top speed saying that her legs were skinny too, so she could run as fast as the Christmas Spider. That was before she wiped out on the kitchen floor. With a bruised elbow and a tear stained face she snuggled up on my lap. She looked up at me and told me that the Christmas Spider wasn’t allowed to snuggle with me when she came to our house. I reassured her that she was the only spider I’d ever snuggle.
At the library I found this book titled, Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel. It’s a tale about an old German woman who cleans out her home for Christmas, sweeping away the spiders and their webs. The spiders later return and spin their webs in her Christmas tree and Saint Nicholas changes the webs into tinsel.
I also discovered that not only is there a real Christmas Spider (Austracantha minax) that lives in Australia, but there is also a German and Ukranian legend of the Christmas Spider. Ornaments and craft project abound around this legend.
The Legend of the Christmas Spider
A long time ago , a mother prepared for Christmas Eve. She cleaned and scrubbed her home, chasing the spiders from the living room with her broom. The spiders fled to the attic and listened to the excitement below as the Christmas tree was put up and decorated. When all was quiet again, the little spiders crept back downstairs to see the beautiful tree. They were filled with happiness as they crawled along every branch, admiring the glittering beauty of each ornament. But alas, by the time they had finished climbing through the tree, it was completely draped with their dusty, gray cobwebs.
When the Christ child came, He smiled as He looked upon the happy little spiders, however, He knew the mother would be heartbroken when she saw the shrouded tree. So He reached out nd touched the webs and, blessing them, turned them into silver and gold. Now the Christmas tree sparkled and shimmered and was even more beautiful than before. Thus the custom to have tinsel of silver and gold and a spider ornament amongst the other decorations on the Christmas tree was born.