An Advent Tradition: The Jesse Tree


Most of us love this magical time of year. The lights, decorations, music, delicious treats, fun crafts, Christmas cards, shopping, and of course presents! Viewing Christmas through the eyes of your children make this season even better. There really is nothing quite like the wonder of Christmas and taking time for beloved family traditions.

There are many Christmas traditions out there to be enjoyed, but most of them don’t involve the original Christmas story. When I was searching for a tradition for my little family, I wanted something that would point all of us back to the true meaning of Christmas. Then I found the Jesse Tree.

I learned that the Jesse Tree is an old tradition that dates back to medieval times and has recently made a comeback in many homes. It is used to tell the Bible story from creation to the birth of Jesus. The first Jesse Trees were stained glass, tapestries, or carvings that were used in churches to help illiterate people learn the Bible stories.

The name references Jesse, the father of the great King David of Israel. The core verse is Isaiah 11:1, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a branch will bear fruit.” The branch in this prophecy refers to the life of Jesus, who was a direct descendent of King David. The branch also symbolizes new beginnings. 

Most people use Jesse Trees like you would an Advent calendar. Each day during Advent, you hang a special ornament, that tells a Bible story, on the tree. The tree can be a regular Christmas tree, a banner, or if you are like us, some branches from the backyard set in a decorated mason jar. The ornaments can vary too. Take a look on pinterest and browse all of the creative ways people have made their Jesse trees and ornaments. Our ornaments were purchased from Teachers Pay Teachers and printed on cardstock. We use the Jesus Storybook Bible and Bible story videos to teach through the stories each night.

This is our third year using our Jesse Tree and it has been such a precious time for our family to spend together. My 3.5 year old looks forward to our story time and hanging the ornaments on the tree. I look forward to the years ahead as my boys grow up, when we can find new meaning and inspiration from these old stories. If you are in search of a family tradition that brings you together, involves creativity, and tells the story of the Bible, the Jesse Tree may be for you!