Do you know the legend about the Christmas spider?
Do you decorate your Christmas tree with spiders?
Have you heard about this tradition?
In Poland, spiders or spider webs are common Christmas trees decorations because according to the legend, a spider wove a blanket for Baby Jesus. In fact, Polish people consider spiders to be symbols of goodness and prosperity at Christmas.
The legend of the Christmas Spider is an Eastern European folktale which explains the origin of tinsel on Christmas trees. In Poland small ornaments in the shape of a spider are traditionally a part of the Christmas tree decorations.
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 Christmas tree by winter. The tree grew, but when Christmas Eve arrived, they could not afford to decorate it. The children sadly went to bed and fell asleep.
Early the next morning, they woke up and saw the tree covered with cobwebs. 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 of the legend replace sunlight with a miracle from Father Christmas, Santa Claus or the Child Jesus, and tell the story primarily from the perspective of the spiders who wished to see the Christmas tree.
Read one more Christmas tale.
For questions (1—6) choose and circle the correct answer (a, b, c or d).
Long, long ago, on one Christmas Eve, spiders were banished from homes while people cleaned the houses and broke their webs. They had to move to the farthest corner of the attic. Young spiders wanted to see the decorated Christmas trees and the little Christ child. The elders tried to tell the younger spiders that they were not allowed inside the rooms but the young spiders were quite curious.
When the house was dark and silent and everybody was asleep, the spiders crept out of their hiding place and slowly reached the Christmas tree. They spent all night in the tree, examining its beautiful ornaments. They left pretty and delicate spider webs all over the tree.
In the early 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. The Christ child gently touched the spider webs and made them sparkling and shining in silver and golden colours. The Christmas tree looked even more beautiful than before.
When were spiders driven out of people’s homes?
- At Christmas time.
- On Christmas morning.
- At the weekend.
- On the 24th of December.
Where did the spiders live?
- In the bathroom.
- Under the roof.
- In the kitchen.
- Under the floor.
Who wanted to see the decorated Christmas trees and the little Christ child?
- The huge spiders.
- The young spiders.
- The oldest spiders.
- The cleverest spider.
When did the spiders go to look at the Christmas tree?
- When the family was having dinner.
- When everybody was dancing.
- When the family was in bed.
- When the little Christ child arrived.
The spiders left pretty and delicate spider webs … .
- all over the house
- all over the attic
- all over the tree
- all over the bedroom
The Christ child … .
- transformed the Christmas tree into gold
- changed the colours of the spider webs
- did nothing in the room
- removed the webs from the Christmas tree
Make the following sentences true to the text.
1) The spiders wanted to have a look at the Christmas tree and its decorations.
2) The young spiders didn’t take interest in the Christmas tree.
3) With the spider webs, the Christmas tree became worse than before.
The origins of the folk tale are unknown, but it is believed to have come from either Germany, Poland or Ukraine.
In Germany, Poland, and Ukraine, finding a spider or a spider’s web on a Christmas tree is considered good luck.
Ukrainians also create small Christmas tree ornaments in the shape of a spider (known as pavuchky, literally “little spiders”), usually made of paper and wire. They also decorate Christmas trees with artificial spider webs. The tradition of using tisel is also said to be because of this story.