[OZTL_NET] CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN: Cobweb Christmas- The Tradition of Tinsel

Barbara Braxton barbara.288 at bigpond.com
Wed Dec 7 08:07:49 AEDT 2016

Cobweb Christmas- The Tradition of Tinsel

Shirley Climo

Jane Manning

HarperCollins, 2001

32pp., hbk.,



Tante is so little she has to stand on a stool to climb into bed and so old
she can't count all the Christmases she has seen.  She lived at the edge of
a pine forest in Germany in a tiny cottage with her canary, her cat and her
dog.  Beside the cottage was a barn with a donkey, a goat, a rooster and a
hen - so she had all she needed.

Usually Tante wasn't too fussed about having a spic and span house but at
Christmas time when the days were short and the nights long, she cleaned her
house from top to bottom and corner to corner sweeping even the tiniest
cobwebs and their inhabitants from the rafters.  She would chop down the
best Christmas tree she could find and decorated it with sugar cookies and
gingerbread and put special presents under it for her animals.  She invited
the village children in to see her tree and share its goodies - there was
something for everyone including her animals, except the spiders who had all
been swept out the door.

But still Tante wasn't really happy - all her life she had heard about the
marvellous things that happened on Christmas Eve like animals talking or
bees humming carols. So she sat down to wait for the Christmas magic but
soon fell asleep so she never knew whether it happened or not.  She
certainly did not hear tiny little voices begging to be let in out of the
cold - but Kriss Kringle did so he opened the door a crack and in went all
the spiders who had been swept outside.

And the next morning Tante woke to find that Christmas magic had really

Based on an old European folktale, Shirley Climo and Jane Manning have
brought this story to the 21st century in a superb retelling with charming
illustrations.  Tinsel - originally shiny strands of brass or copper - has
been part of traditional Christmas decorations since the end of the 19th
century as people tried to bring light and sparkle into their homes at a
dark time of the year in the northern hemisphere.  Anyone who has seen a
cobweb dipped in dew in the early morning and gleaming as the sun catches it
can easily make the connection between the spiders' work and the sparkly
loops of foil we use today.

This is a story worth tracking down to add to your Christmas collection -
well-written and adding just a bit more to the story of this special time it
will be one to read every Christmas Countdown.





Barbara Braxton

Teacher Librarian

M.Ed.(TL), M.App.Sci.(TL), M.I.S. (Children's Services) 

Dromkeen Librarian's Award 2003



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