Nothing says Christmas like a beautiful tree decorated with tinsel, lights, and ... spider webs? Most Yuletide celebrants might not agree with that last item, but don't try telling that to anyone from Ukraine.
In traditional Ukrainian homes, Christmas trees are adorned with spider ornaments and artificial spider webs to keep a legend alive.
According to the story, a poor family was excited when a pine cone that had fallen on the floor began to sprout, thus promising them a tree for Christmas. But sadly, there was no money for ornaments, so the best they could hope for was a barren tree. Instead, a spider overheard the family and spent the night spinning webs all over the pine tree. By morning, the sun shone on the webs and made for a glittery Christmas morning. The legend holds that the webs turned to gold and silver, thus ensuring the family would never go hungry again.
Unusual facts about Ukraine:
- Lviv, Ukraine, lays claim to being the home of the first gas lamp, invented by a local pharmacist.
- The largest plane ever built came from Ukraine; the Antonov An-225 Mriya has a 290-foot (88.4-m) wingspan and a maximum takeoff weight of 705 tons (640 tonnes).
- Ukraine is the largest country that is located entirely within Europe. At 233,000 square miles (603,000 square km), it is slightly smaller than Texas.