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Bugs on a Christmas tree don’t usually get us excited. For some cultures, though, insects on a Christmas tree actually symbolize good luck!
Spiders on Christmas trees — whether real, or in the form of ornaments — are a Ukrainian tradition that dates back to the late 1800s or early 1900s, according to Lubow Wolynetz, folk art curator at New York City's Ukrainian Museum.
Often referred to as "The Legend of the Christmas Spider," the practice of using spider decorations coincided with the growing use of evergreens for holiday decor, according to Wolynetz.
As the legend goes, a poor family couldn't afford to properly decorate a Christmas tree, so the mother decided to hang a few nuts and fruits on the small tree, hoping to bring smiles to her children on Christmas Day. A bunch of spiders went to work, weaving their webs on the tree, and when the sun came up on Christmas Day, the webs turned into silver and gold for the family.
Over time, spider decorations became increasingly popular, and Wolynetz said they're actually gaining in traction today.
"Spiders have always been considered 'good luck insects' in Ukrainian tradition," Wolynetz explained. "This tiny insect magically creates beauty on the tree — it’s the ideal Christmas adornment for a very magical holiday."
Every year, The Ukrainian Museum conducts workshops on traditional Ukrainian Christmas tree ornaments, and Wolynetz said the most popular ornament is always the spider. Other popular traditional ornaments include mobiles and clowns (made from emptied eggs).
If it brings good luck, it’s safe to say this ornament trend is something even arachnophobes can get behind!