Have you ever thought of a spider as being good luck? Not only are they natural pest controllers, their venom and silk is used for medical experiments and may lead to a cure for some forms of cancer. But in Germany, Poland, and Ukraine, spotting a spider web in your Christmas tree is considered very good luck indeed.
People put some strange decorations on their Christmas trees – everything from nails to pickles to carved radishes! Ukrainian children craft little pavuchky ornaments – mini ornaments made of paper and wire in the shape of a spider - to put on their trees. Again, they do it for good luck and to thank the spider. According to Lubow Wolynetz, folk art curator at the Ukrainian Museum, New York City, the spider ornaments tradition goes back about 150-200 years.
The story of the spider’s special contribution to tree decorating – what they created, not how they’re remembered – goes back further. Maybe as far back as the Ukrainians other holiday tradition, pysanky, which are intricately hand painted eggs the Eastern European residents created for generations to keep the Carpathian dragon and his evil away from the people.
The Christmas story – which we told in more detail here – is that a poor widow had no money to dress the fir tree that sprouted in her home, so she prayed for grace for herself and her children. Spiders, not willing to see them in distress, decorated the tree with their cobwebs and when the winter sun hit the cobwebs, they transformed into strands of real silver. The widow and her children were never poor again and they shared generously with their neighbors.
In Germany and Ukraine, and a few other pockets of Eastern Europe, it is said that this was the origin of tinsel. So not only do the little slivers of sparkle add ambiance to the tree, they remember when God (or sometimes Saint Nicholas/Svyatyy Mykolay) answered a poor family’s prayers and gave them hope and joy.
We are in the third week of Advent – which is symbolized by joy and rejoicing. Christmas is a time for celebrating the baby Jesus’ birth and the hope he brought to the world. In just over a week, families across the world will celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, itself a celebration of a miracle that restored hope.
Pavuchky For You
Gather the children around along with a spool of jewelry wire and the following:
FOR EACH SPIDER
These will be much easier to craft if you have a pair of needle nose pliers with a cutting edge and a pair of tweezers.
Start by cutting 4 lengths of jewelry wire about 4 inches long, or the height of an envelope. These will be the legs. You can arrange them however you like, but if you start with two seed beads in the center and work your way out, alternating between long beads and seed beads, your spider legs will be mostly symmetrical.
Add about 4 of each of the long and seed beads on either side of the center beads. Use the pliers to curl a small loop on either side of the legs. You’ll have extra space on the wire, that’s for connecting the legs to the body.
Slide the head and body beads over the pin with a little twist. Bend each leg slightly in half between the center beads. Remove the body bead. Carefully wrap them around the pin just below the head bead. Wrap the legs around the pin until they are secure. Then slide the body bead back on and use the pliers to twist the end of the pin into a circle your Christmas tree hook will be threaded through.
You can now hang your pavuchky spider on the tree or even fashion the spider to wear as jewelry.
Christmas is Almost Here
If you’re having any insect or other pest issues, don’t wait. It’s easy to procrastinate, just like many people do with decorating or buying gifts. But unlike your favorite stores, we aren’t open til midnight on Christmas Eve. Enjoy the holidays and start the new year pest free. Call us today!
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