Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel
by Shirley Climo
illustrated by Jane Manning
An old lady, called Tante (Auntie) by the village children, prepares for Christmas by cleaning her house and sweeping away the cobwebs. Then she bakes and decorates and shares Christmas with the children. She even shares Christmas with her animals. At day's end, she falls asleep while waiting for Christmas magic. Later that night, when Kriss Kringle passes by, he notices the crowd of spiders outside Tante’s door.
“We have never shared a Christmas,” the biggest spider explains. “Would you let us see Tante’s tree?” Kriss Kringle opens the door for them, and the spiders swarm the tree, leaving sticky cobwebs on all the branches. Kringle turns the webs into glittering strands of gold and silver. When Tante awakes, she rejoices in the magic and, finding one lone spider still spinning its web, realizes who has helped to make Christmas special. And that is why tinsel is hung on Christmas trees.
Based on an old European folktale, it also explains why spider ornaments are common on German Christmas trees.