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Spiders

December 26, 2014

 

    In Slavic tradition "spiders" (павук) were traditional New Year's and Christmas ornaments. Before the Christmas holidays girls always had many tasks to complete. Besides getting ready for Malanka they also had to clean, cook and make various home decorations, like the ‘didukh’, ‘spiders’ and ‘hedgehogs’. The decorations were typically made on January 2. Girls would gather in secret, to make sure there were no men with them, and start cutting straw, stringing it on a thread and forming squares and triangles of different size.

 

    On Christmas Eve 'spiders' were hung from the central beam of the ceiling. Suspended on a thread made from horse hair the decoration kept constantly spinning and moving, making the impression of a living being.

 

    Apart from the ‘spiders’ people also made ‘hedgehogs’ – these were made of clay or dough with rye ears used to made the creature’s needles. Nonetheless, the "spiders" were always the favorite decorations. Their diamond-shaped toys actually resemble a spider's web, and the centre piece - a spider, protecting the house.

 

    Spiders have always been considered desirable in people’s dwellings, because the world was believed to have been created by a spider. There’s a belief that those who kill a spider will bring misfortune upon themsevles.

 

    Another belief stated that if there was a spider beside you, you were to expect news! In addition to that, in folk tradition spiders are the embodiment of persistence and hard work. All the elements put together, with spiders considered hard workers and news bearers there’s no wonder they were used as a means of letting everyone know that Christmas was coming.

    There’s also a legend, that after Jesus’ birth, when Herod the Great ordered his soldiers to find and murder every baby around, a spider came down and made an incredible web to cover up the entrance to Mary’s hide out, this way saving them both from death.

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