With the ongoing war in Ukraine, interest in its cultural past has been heightened across the world. As the area begins to turn its attention to the coming 2022 holiday season, it’s an opportunity to delve into an unusual seasonal tradition that hearkens from that part of Eastern Europe: the Christmas spider.
Ukrainian families often place jeweled spiders on their Christmas trees.
The practice dates back centuries to a tale about a spider that, thankful for the warmth in the house provided by a poor family, spins beautiful Christmas “decorations” on its tree. The delicate, silky patterns bring a new sheen to the home’s Christmas celebration and foretells (legend has it) good luck to the creature’s hosts.
To this day, the placement of a spider on a seasonal tree is supposed to bring good fortune to households for an entire year.
Manor College’s Chrystyna Prokopovich, the curator of the Ukrainian Heritage Studies Center at Manor, tells the legend through the book, A Christmas Spider’s Miracle.
This video shows Manor College’s Chrystyna Prokopovich reading the tale of the Christmas spider to her grandchildren.
Editor’s note: This post originally ran in MONTCO.Today on Dec. 21, 2021.