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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Unusual Christmas Traditions Around the World: Ukrainian Christmas Spiderweb




The spider-web-covered "yalynka" (Christmas tree) is now a standard Ukrainian Christmas story. It comes in many versions, and has appeared in a number of contemporary children's books.

There once was a widow, who lived in a small hut. One day a pinecone dropped on the floor and it took root. Her children were excited that they would have a tree for Christmas. All summer long they made plans on how they would decorate the tree. They were very poor, so poor that they did not have anything to decorate the tree with. The widow went to bed on Christmas Eve knowing that the tree would not be decorated. Early on Christmas morning, the woman was awakened by her children. "Mother, mother wake up and see the tree it is beautiful!" 



The mother arose and saw that during the night a spider had spun a web around the tree. The youngest child opened the window to the first light of Christmas Day. As the shafts of the sun crept along the floor, it touched one of the threads of the spider web and instantly the web was changed into gold and silver. And from that day forward the widow never wanted for anything.




The various embellishments of the story depend upon the teller and the tale. Another version has the Holy Family hiding in a cave during their flight to Egypt. The benevolent spiders spin webs and cover the whole entrance to the cave. When Herod's soldiers pass by, they do not bother searching the cave, because obviously it has not been disturbed in a long time - and the Holy Family is safe.


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