When a family of spiders see the decorated Christmas tree on Christmas eve, they are so enchanted, that they leave their hiding spot and drop down onto the tree to explore, but suddenly they hear footsteps and into the room steps a jolly fellow, dressed in red, with a sack on his back. Who can that be? A fun folktale from Germany that explains the origin of decorating trees with tinsel. (duration 9 minutes) A special Christmas bonus episode of Journey with Story, a storytelling podcast for kids.
Learn How and Why we Decorate Christmas Trees
Do you like admiring all the Christmas trees you see at this time of year? Do you have a favorite type of decoration you like to see on a Christmas tree?
Hello everyone. I’m Kathleen Pelley. Welcome to Journey with Story. Today’s story is an old legend from Germany that explains how and why we decorate our Christmas trees.
Let’s take a journey with – The Spiders and the Christmas Tree.
Long ago, on Christmas eve, in a house at the edge of a forest, a baby spider, who had been spinning his web high up in the corner of the ceiling, was startled by a terrible racquet.
“What’s happening? What’s that noise?” he cried.
“Shush now, said his Mama. “Look below and you will see for yourself what is happening.”
The baby spider looked down and saw the woman of the house, Mother, waving a big broom with a long handled feather duster. She was sweeping and dusting all the corners of the floor of the room with great gusto.
Then the Mother raised the duster and started on the ceiling corners, pulling down the spiders’ webs as she went.
“Hurry, hurry!” beckoned Mama spider. We need to hide.” At once, the baby spider turned and followed his Mama and all the other spiders as they squeezed through a tiny hole, high up in the far corner of the ceiling, into a dusty, dark space that was the attic.
“Why is she doing that?” wailed the baby spider. “Those are our homes. I worked hard on my web.”
“Well,” sighed his Mama. “This happens once a year, at a time the people in the house call Christmas. On Christmas Eve, the Mother cleans the whole house until it is spotless. Then the Father and the Children come in with a tree, which they stand in the corner of the room.”
“How strange,” said the baby spider. “Why put a tree inside the house?”
“The Mother and the Father decorate the tree, when the children have gone to bed, so that they are ready for Santa Claus to come and leave presents for the children,” Mama spider told him.
The baby spider and all his brothers and sisters gasped in excitement. “Please, can we go and look? they begged.
“Oh, no, no. It’s much too dangerous,’ said Mama and Papa spider both. “If the Mother sees you, she will sweep you up with the rubbish. We must stay here, out of the way, until Christmas is over.”
“But, Mama, please, we want to see the beautiful tree too as well as the children,” begged all the little spiders in chorus. “We don’t want to stay here, it’s dark and dirty,”
“Quiet now, quiet now,” soothed Mama spider. “Let us ponder for a while to see if we can find a way.”
Mama spider tucked her legs up beneath her body and stayed very still for a long time, thinking. Finally, she said, “Perhaps if we wait until the Mother and Father themselves go to bed, then it might be safe for you to peep out of the hole, one at a time, to see the tree. But you must be careful not to be seen, even by Santa Claus.”
The young spiders settled down and listened to the noises in the house below. After the cleaning had finished, they heard the squeals and laughter of the children as the Father came into the room, making a scuffling, dragging sound. Then after a bit more banging, there was a loud HURRAY from the children. Soon, they heard the Mother saying her goodnight to each of the children and then there was just the sound of mumbled chatter from the Mother and the Father.
Eventually, when all had been still and quiet for some time, Mama spider whispered, “It should be safe to peep now, but take care.”
The baby spider was the first to hurry to the hole. He peeped out and and gazed around the room. There in the corner was a most marvelous sight – a tall, dark green tree covered in bright baubles and ornaments.
So enchanted was he, that he slipped out of the hole and scurried along the ceiling to get a better look.
Immediately, the other young spiders followed him, and all of them gasped in amazement at the beautiful tree. Mama and Papa spider scurried behind their little ones, and soon the whole family was scuttling toward the tree, throwing caution to the wind.
All of them dropped down onto the tree and began to skitter and scatter all along the branches, admiring each shiny ornament. As they went, they weaved their own silken threads from leaf to trinket, from branch to bauble, covering the whole tree in a glistening web.
Suddenly they heard footsteps in the hallway. For a moment, the spiders froze with terror, but then they gathered their wits, and immediately dropped to the ground and scrambled across the floor and up the walls to safety.
Moments later, they peeked through the hole and what did they see? A jolly fellow with white whiskers wearing a fluffy red coat and carrying a huge sack on his back.
He stopped in amazement when he saw the decorated tree covered in silken spider webs.
Now Santa Claus loved all God’s creatures and he knew how important spiders and their webs are. But he also knew that the Mother and Father would be alarmed and disappointed to see their beautiful, decorated tree, covered in spiders’ webs. All their hard work to surprise their children would be ruined.
Santa glanced up at the little hole from where the spiders were peeping, and he smiled, as he reached out his hand to touch the webs. Immediately they turned to shimmering silver and gold strands, glittering in the moonlight.
Then Santa set to work, arranging all the presents around the tree. With a final wave to the spiders, he crept out of the room. All night long, the spiders kept watch over the glistening tree, until the first shafts of early morning sunshine spilled into the room.
Now squealing and laughing the children tumbled down the stairs. Mother and Father trundled after them. They all stopped at the entrance of the doorway and gasped in amazement at such a spectacular sight – never had they seen such a beautiful tree, draped in silver and gold strands, sparkling and shimmering – filling the room and their hearts with great joy and cheer on this Christmas morn.
From that day on, people started to add silver and gold strands to the decorations on their trees. Nowadays, we call it tinsel, but not everyone knows they should thank the spiders for it!
Happy Christmas everyone – may it be filled with great joy and peace.
Cheerio then, join me next time for Journey with Story.