Long, long ago, on one Christmas Eve, the spiders were banished from homes as they were cleaned for Christmas and their webs were broken.
They just managed to survive, and had to move to the farthest corner of the attic for the time being. However, as story goes, some of the young spiders longed to see the decorated Christmas trees and Baby Jesus that traditionally came to bless the homes in the midnight. Despite the elders tried to make them understand that they were not allowed inside the rooms, the young spiders were quite curious and adamant and, finally, the oldest and wisest spider came up with a solution: he suggested that in the night, when everybody went to bed, perhaps they could creep out of their corners and get a closer look of the magical Christmas tree.
Also the adult spiders felt the thrill of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them and at midnight, when the house of a noble family was dark and silent and everybody was fast asleep, spiders crept out of their hiding place and slowly reached the Christmas tree. They were so captivated by the ethereal beauty that they spent all night in the tree, crawling up and down and examining its beautiful decorations. Of course, they could not curb their urge to weave pretty and delicate spider webs all over the tree as they danced on its branches. When in the wee hours of the morning, the little Christ child came to bless the house, he was surprised to find little spiders and their webs on the tree.
He knew that every creature was made by God, but he also knew how the mother had worked hard all day to make everything perfect and she would be dismayed to find the spider webs on its tree. Thus, with a heart full of love and a lovely bewitching smile on his lips, he gently touched the spider webs and set them sparkling and shining in silver and golden colors that made the Christmas tree look even more beautiful than before.
Apparently, this is how tinsel was introduced to decorate Christmas trees and, in addition, some people also hang a plastic spider in remembrance of the devoted little spiders who worked hard that Christmas Eve.
According to another version of the same story, a poor but hardworking widow once lived in a small hut with her children. One summer day, a pine cone fell on the earthen floor of the hut and took root. The widow’s children cared for the tree, excited at the prospect of having a real Christmas tree by winter. However, despite the tree grew, when Christmas Eve arrived they could not afford to decorate it. The children sadly went to bed and fell asleep. When early the next morning they woke up, they saw the tree covered with cobwebs and, when they opened the windows, the first rays of sunlight touched the webs and turned them into gold and silver. The widow and her children were overjoyed. From then on, they never lived in poverty again. Other versions replaces sunlight with a miracle from Father Christmas, Santa Claus, or the Child Jesus.
Other versions or embellishments of the legend of the Christmas spider depend upon the teller and the tale: another version speak about the Holy Family hiding in a cave during their flight to Egypt, and the benevolent spiders spinned webs to cover the whole entrance to the cave. When Herod’s soldiers passed by, they do not bother searching the cave, because obviously it has not been disturbed in a long time, and the Holy Family was safe.
In any case, the origins of the story are unknown, but it is believed to have come from Germany or Ukraine. And in fact, in Germany, Poland, and Ukraine, finding a spider or a spider’s web on a Christmas tree is considered good luck. Ukrainians, for istance, also create small Christmas tree ornaments in the shape of a spider (known, not by chance, as pavuchky, literally “little spiders”), usually made of paper and wire, and they also decorate Christmas trees with artificial spider webs.
Apparently this tradition dates back to the late 1800s or early 1900, and It may be based on an older European superstition about spiders bringing luck (though not black spiders in Germany)….