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The legend of the Christmas tree spider

This article appeared in the November 30, 2012 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise

Spiders are amazing spinners, but can they decorate a Christmas tree?  According to an old European legend, they certainly can!  As part of its current Community Science Project Spiders in Your World, Explorit Science Center is exploring cultural traditions about spiders and just in time for the holidays.

Join us on Saturday, December 15 at 2:00 pm for a special workshop at our site at 3141 5th St. in Davis to learn all about the legend of the Christmas tree spider, enjoy some hot cocoa and make a beautiful glass beaded spider ornament.  The cost for the workshop is $9 per person and includes materials for one ornament and guided instruction; children age eight and up are welcome to attend with a parent.

Many versions of this legend are prevalent in Germany, Ukraine and other parts of Europe.  By spinning its gossamer webs, a spider adorns the tree of a poor family on Christmas Eve, a tradition we commemorate by adding tinsel to our modern trees.  

In some versions of the tale, the spider has help from Santa Claus, or sometimes even the Christ child.  We’ll explore different versions of the legend as we make our ornaments so our Christmas trees can have spiders of their own.  Make a spider part of your holiday celebration.  And while you’re here, be sure to check out our current exhibition Beyond the Table:  A Look at Agriculture and You, which will be open before and after the workshop.

Space is limited for this workshop so please visit to reserve your spot today.  This will be Explorit’s last Spiders in Your World event for 2012, but don’t worry, we’ll be back in 2013 with plenty more spider science fun.

We’re planning more public lectures and family events about the science and lore of spiders.  And you can participate in our on-going spider observation project Where Is My Spider?  Visit to help us document the spiders of Yolo County and beyond!

There are almost as many ways to participate in Explorit’s Community Science Project as there are different types of spiders to study and enjoy.  Make your own unique spider ornament to celebrate the holidays and the spiders in your world.


Explorit’s coming events:

• Astronomy Club Meeting: Saturday, December 8 at 6:00 p.m. the astronomy club will have a variety of telescopes and binoculars set up at Explorit for display for anyone interested in examining telescopes with thoughts of purchasing one for the holidays. Beginning at 7:00 p.m. the Astronomy Club will meet to discuss the different types of telescopes and accessories.  We will also look at the stars in the night sky following the main program, weather permitting.

• Legend of the Christmas Tree Spider Workshop: Saturday, December 15 at 2:00 pm make a glass beaded spider while you sip hot cocoa and hear the tail of the Christmas Tree Spider.  The fee is $9.00 per person. Space is limited for this workshop so please visit to reserve your spot today.  

• Winter Break: Explorit’s Beyond the Table exhibition will be open from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on December 22 – 23, December 26 – 31, and January 2 - 6.  We hope you will join us for some science fun and discovery over the holiday break.


Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St..  For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit, or “like” us on Facebook at

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