Midweek Musing 12/21/22 - The Story of the Christmas Spiders
I love little, short stories and legends especially those that center around Holidays and Holy Days. Recently I ran across one I never had read before.
What caught my eye was a picture that was with the story. The picture was of a Christmas Tree from probably the 1970s or 1980s and it was covered with metallic-looking silver and gold tinsel.
I remember that decoration trend. That stuff got everywhere. You could not vacuum it up as it clogged the Hoover, Sensotronic Upright Electrolux (shag carpet didn’t help either.)
In fact, by the time it was all found and picked up it would be time for Easter baskets with the fake green grass that also got everywhere and could not be vacuumed up. Incidentally, that stuff wasn’t all found until Summer when we started bringing in sand from the sandbox.
Anyway, tinsel on trees was not simply a trend of the 1970s and 80s though that particular shimmering vacuum-clogging type seems to be. Instead, tinsel being put on trees goes back hundreds of years.
And like many Christmas traditions, there are several versions of the same general tale which have been used to say where the tradition came from.
The stories surrounding tinsel are especially sweet (even if they do involve spiders.)
These stories also remind me that all gifts, both big and small, are seen by God and by the power of God’s grace can be multiplied for special and even sacred purposes in our world.
Anyway, I have taken a great deal of poetic license from multiple sources and added my own twist to create my own version of how tinsel came to be on Christmas Trees. I hope you both enjoy it and somehow that perhaps it also might speak to you.
The Story of the Christmas Spiders
Long, long ago, on the first Christmas Eve as the star stood watch over the tiny manger in Bethlehem - Joseph and the innkeeper’s servant cleaned the animal barn outside the Inn as best they could for Mary. It was clear she was about to deliver a child into the world. A child that an angel had told Joseph and Mary to name Jesus. As the stable was cleaned even cobwebs were swept away and the spiders which called them home retreated to the cracks and crevices of the old barn’s wooden frame.
From this vantage point, the spiders watched the birth of the Lord.
And while shepherds and cattle, chickens, and sheep, and even the swine gave presents to Mary and the baby Jesus –milk and eggs, hay for his bed, wool for warmth, a feeding trough for a crib, song of praise and even a little drummer boy’s tune the spiders only could watch.
The spiders however longed to give some act of praise to God for the Christ child and offer thanks for Christmas.
This desire was passed down from generation to generation of spiders with each wishing for the opportunity to offer a proper gift to God in honor of Christmas.
Centuries later a poor widow quietly put her children to bed on Christmas eve. As she settled them down under their covers, she pulled out the family Bible and once read the story of Jesus’s birth to them. In her bedtime prayers with her meager family, she gave thanks for their small home noting Jesus did not have a home when he was born.
As the children went to sleep, they asked if Santa visited Jesus like they hoped he would visit them. She said no but shepherds with there and simple gifts were brought to the stable and that these were enough.
Though the children listened they still fell asleep with visions of gifts and toys dancing in their dreams.
The poor mother knew the only gift for their stockings was a shiny red apple she had saved for each of them.
As she sat at her table by her stove, she resolved to celebrate Christmas with all the joy she had. She began by meticulously cleaning the house until it shined. She slipped outside and brought in a small tress that she decorated with colorful scraps of cloth she had saved from her seamstress work. Then she sprinkled holly berries from her yard along each branch of the evergreen.
As she headed to bed, she saw several small spiderwebs up high among the rafters. She considered climbing on a chair to wipe them away. But she thought to herself they really were not bothering anything, and their webs kept other insects away, so she let them be. Giving the spider in the high in the rafter a small wink and a smile. Finally, she blew out the lanterns and candles and retired to bed.
The spider looked down on this poor family and noted the act of kindness. Suddenly she had an idea. Signaling her friends, the spiders crept out of their hiding place and slowly reached the Christmas tree. They were so captivated by the trees simple beauty but wanted to add to this poor woman’s Christmas spirit. They each began weaving delicate spider webs all over the tree as they danced on its branches. The moon’s light peering through the small cottages window caught the beautiful webs making each of them sparkle and shimmer in the quiet darkness.
In the wee hours of the morning, the little Christ child saw this small home filled with Christmas spirit in spite of the family’s hardships. He was also surprised to find little spiders and their webs of joy covering the tree.
Noting this joy, the Christ child came to bless the house.
The Lord knew that every creature was made by God and yet he knew how the mother who had worked hard all day to make everything perfect and that despite the spider’s kind gift the woman 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, the Christ child 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. And as some of these sparking strands of tinsel fell to the floor below the tree, they became coins of silver and gold which would lift this family from its humble existence.
It is said that this is how tinsel was introduced to decorate Christmas trees and some people also hang a small spider ornament on their own tree in remembrance of the devoted little spiders who worked hard that Christmas Eve and were finally able to give a Christmas gift to the babe born in a manger in Bethlehem.