Decorations on the web!

In Ukraine, they tell a story of a poor widow and her children, who had a Christmas tree, but no money to buy decorations.

Ratvaark talks to us, and in the background Ofelia, Micro and Nano look at a plain Christmas tree in a pot.

Ofelia, Nano and Micro look at the bare tree

Feeling a bit sad, they all went to bed.

The three vaarks look a bit sad, snozzles drooping

But during the night, a spider came and wove a magic web all over the tree…

Winston, dressed as a spider with 8 pipecleaner legs, stands beside the tree

And in the morning, the webs had turned into threads of pure silver and gold! So the family were never poor again. And to this day, people in Ukraine include spider web decorations on their trees.

Ofelia, Micro and Nano and the spider look at the tree, now garlanded in gold and silver thread

Ofelia, Micro and Nano look at the tree, now with a big paper spiderweb decoration on the top.

What have you found spider? A ringing bell!

Winston in his spider costume looks at the calendar, and a picture of a bell.

25th December: Merry Christmas!

For our final dish, on Christmas Day, we have a candle. Arnold has agreed to supervise, so that we can light it!

Sometimes candles are used to countdown the days or weeks to Christmas. Candles can be made of wax or fat, perfumed or not, but they all give off light, which is an important feature of mid-winter festivals. When we’re all missing the sun a bit, it’s a message that the light will come back again!

Ratvaark lights the candle

And so, we wish you all a Merry and Peaceful Christmas, with snacks galore!

All the vaarks look at the camera, gathered in front of their tree, with the candle glowing at the top.

24th December: Rudolph!

Gino found a very jolly reindeer head to put on the tree, but he had to assure Matilda that it wasn’t really Rudolph!

Gino shows Matilda a reindeer head

Reindeer live in the far north and have thick coats and wide feet to help them walk on the snow. Most people know them as the animals who pull Santa Claus’ sleigh through the air, guided by Rudolph’s shiny red nose!

Gino puts the reindeer head on the tree

23rd December: Dashing through the snow.

Ofelia is enjoying a sleigh ride on a starry night, wrapped up warm in her blanket.

Ofelia rides in a sleigh, pulled by a knitted unicorn.

A sleigh is a sort of cart that has runners to travel on snow. It could be pulled by horses, or even dogs, but at Christmas of course, we think of Santa’s sleigh, which is pulled by reindeer, and flies through the air!

Esther puts a sleigh near the top of the tree as Microvaark watches from the very top

22nd December: Skate away!

In the olden days, sometimes winters were much colder than they are now, and big rivers like the Thames used to freeze over. People would skate about on them and have fun, and other people set up stalls to sell food and souvenirs. They were called Frost Fairs.

Peggy Gino and some vaarks skate on ice, with Winston’s burger van in the background

Ofelia found a lovely skate, but she needed a boost from Winston to reach to put it on the tree!

21st December: A sweet little house!

Hypno and Fury have been making some gingerbread. Hypno did suggest that workshop dungarees weren’t quite the right outfit, but Fury said she wasn’t wearing a pinny for anybody.

Fury and Hypno roll out a ball of dough

Once the bits were cut out, Hypno made sure to watch the oven so they didn’t burn. Gingerbread is a very delicious Christmas snack, often cut into festive shapes, and decorated with icing. Sometimes, gingerbread is even made into a house, decorated with icing and sweets!

Now, it just needs assembling, and a bit of decoration. Well, that’s…. Yes, well, it’s definitely a house. Well done you two!

Matilda found a slightly prettier gingerbread house for our tree, and we ate the one Hypno and Fury baked! Delicious!

Matilda puts a little gingerbread house on the tree

20th December: The holly bears the crown.

Holly is a tree with prickly leaves, which people often decorate their houses with at Christmas. There is even a carol about it, The Holly and the Ivy. Although a sprig of holly is sometimes put on top of a Christmas pudding, you better not eat it – it’s poisonous!

Because it’s so prickly, Arnold used tongs to put the holly on the tree!

19th December: Get cracking!

Lots of people have a dish of nuts at Christmas… No, Fury, not that sort of nuts!

Fury has a stack of big metal hexagonal nuts

Here, try using your hammer on this walnut. No? Maybe a bigger hammer?

Anyway, lots of people have a dish of nuts at Christmas and there are traditions of children scrambling for nuts thrown down during Christmas celebrations. The good thing about nuts is, you can’t get into them very easily, so you can just use the same ones again next year.

Ratvaark balances an almond on his snozzle to pass it up to Fury who has put a walnut and hazelnut on the tree

18th December: Deck the halls…

Wreaths can be worn on the head, but Christmas wreaths are usually hung on front doors to decorate houses. They can be made from all sorts of evergreens, like holly or ivy, with berries or baubles for colour.

Ernest found a perfect wreath for our tree, and even he had to stand on the chair to put it up there!

What? We are just sniffing the chocolate, honest!

Ernest looks at Ratvaark, Arnold and Fury, who are nibbling the yule log on a lower branch.