Once upon a time there were three little girls, Nelle, Linna and Helmi, who lived in the forest with their mum and dad, and lots of spiders.

They lived in a quaint old timber house but the spiders mostly lived in the walls. Mum said it was too dusty, too cold and had too many spiders.

They weren’t nasty spiders, but in winter, when the weather was cold, and it gets really cold where this forest is, they came out to get warm. These zirneli, that’s what they call spiders in that country, climbed on the kitchen counters, they climbed into the sink then couldn’t get out again, they would have liked to climb up the curtains but there weren’t any, so they just climbed up the walls and the bedclothes to where it was warmest and snuggled down. They even climbed on top of dad’s computer upstairs because it was so warm as he worked hard on it all day.

We will have to do something about these spiders,” said Mum. “There are just too many. They are getting everywhere. I want to put up the Christmas decorations, with the beautiful traditional puzurs I’ve made hanging from the ceiling. But they’ll all get covered in spiders for sure.

Don’t worry,” said dad, “I’ll trap them under a glass and put them outside, or maybe you could make some kind of trap mum.” Mum was very good with her hands; she was always making things.

Oh no,” chorused Nelle, Linna and Helmi together, “it’s too cold outside and they will die. How about making them a nice, snug little house mum? They could all live in there for the winter and they wouldn’t bother us at all.”

So, mum set to work making a lovely little spider house, cutting lots of card and coloured paper, sticking, pinning, colouring until it was a miniature palace, fit for a tiny king. All the girls helped. Then the girls began collecting all the spiders around their home and putting them in the little house, searching every nook and cranny until every one was tucked up in their little palace.

When Nelle, Linna and Helmi went to bed not one spider had come out.

When the girls were tucked up in bed, and soundly asleep, mum began to put up the Christmas decorations. Finally the beautiful puzurs, made of straw and decorated with feathers and eggshells, as is traditional in their country, was hanging from the ceiling.

When mum and dad went to bed still not one of the spiders had come out of their little house.

Once everyone was in bed the spiders had a chat. The biggest spider, a kind of leader whose name was Janis (it’s a very common name in the country where the spiders lived), said to the rest, “Look, this family has been so good with us, not putting us out in the snow. We should do something for them for Christmas. Any ideas?”

We could sing them a Christmas song,” said a little one whose name was Incy Wincy, you know, the one who climbed up the spout.

I think that would frighten them,” said Janis. “They never have seen a spider chorus before. What we can do is spin webs, and we can all be back in our house before they get up.”

But mum doesn’t like spider webs,” said another little one.

Ah, but we can make it a special web which even she will like,” said Janis.

All the spiders began work and soon they were finished and back in their house.

Helmi was up first the next morning. “Nelle, Linna, come quickly, look what mum has done,” she shouted.

Surrounded by all the beautiful handmade decorations they finally looked up to the ceiling to see a wonderful puzurs, its shiny straws sparkling in the candlelight.

But hanging below the puzurs was a gossamer fine banner, shimmering with tiny beads like little pearls, and woven into this wondrous work of art was a message of just two words:

Priecīgus Ziemassvētkuss

which is how people, and even spiders in that country, say

Merry Christmas