What is a Jesse Tree?
A Jesse Tree represents the family tree of Jesus Christ. Each ornament represents a story from the Bible that tells about God’s people before Jesus was born. Each Story shows God’s salvation plan and tell how He guided humanity to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.
The tradition of the Jesse Tree dates back to the middle ages. The name “Jesse Tree” comes from Isaiah 11:1, “Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.” Jesse is the father of King David. The savior was to come from David’s family line.
The Biblical Origins of Jesse Tree
The Jesse Tree tradition is rooted in Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Jesse was the father of David, Israel’s greatest king. And Jesus is descended from the line of David. He is the branch God promised would grow from Jesse’s family tree. Each symbol represents a story from within this family tree and a step toward the birth of Jesus.
What is the tradition?
During the Advent season, a Bible Story is read which relates to Jesus family or God’s people. After the Bible story is read and discussed, an ornament is placed on a tree – the Jesse Tree. This was often done from the beginning of Advent to Christmas Day.
Traditionally the Bible stories corresponded with the readings from Daily Mass so the number of ornaments and the stories that were read changed from one year to the next. This meant that new Jesse Tree ornaments needed to be created each Advent. Because of this, there are many versions of the Jesse Tree.
This version does not follow along with the daily Mass readings, but was created to be simple and easy to use at home and in the classroom. It begins on Dec. 1, continues till Dec. 25, and it can be used the same way every year.
Creating a Jesse Tree
I plan to buy one of those little white painted trees on the roadside, but you can do almost anything. Use a normal little Christmas tree, or cut out a shape and hang it on the wall – anything you imagine.
You can download an instruction sheet here, with ornaments to colour and cut out.
How do I create the ornaments?
With these printable ornaments, the Jesse Tree can be a fun, easy craft! A group of children can divvy-up the ornaments and they can all color some! After the ornaments are colored, cut them out. A 2 ½ inch hole punch is the perfect size to use on these circles! That would make this cutting job very quick and easy!
How do I hang them?
If you plan to hang these on a 3D tree, use a needle and thread to sew a short piece of thread through the top. Knot the two ends together. Then use the thread-loop to hang this on your tree. You could also attach metal hooks to the ornaments.
If your tree is flat (on a wall or bulletin board) you can tape, tack-putty, or staple the ornaments to the tree
Jesse Tree Scripture Readings
Each day from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25 read the Bible story, and discuss it. I have added a link to each story to make it easy to find on the web.
Then add a corresponding ornament to the tree.
- December 1 – Creation: Genesis 1:1-31; 2:1-4 Symbol: earth
- December 2 – Adam and Eve: Genesis 2:7-9, 15-25; 3:1-24 Symbol: apple
- December 3 – Noah: Genesis 6:5-19; 7:16-24; 8:1, 6-11,15-22 Symbol: ark
- December 4 – Babel: Genesis 11:1-9 Symbol: tower
- December 5 – Abraham: Genesis 12:1-7, 15:1-6 Symbol: mountain / night sky
- December 6 – Isaac: Genesis 22:1-14 Symbol: ram on altar
- December 7 – Jacob: Genesis 25:19-34; 28:10-18 Symbol: ladder
- December 8 – Joseph: Genesis 37:23-28; 45:1-15 Symbol: tunic
- December 9 – Moses: Exodus 3:1-10 Symbol: burning bush
- December 10 – Israelites: Exodus 20:1-17 Symbol: Ten Commandments
- December 11 – Joshua: Joshua 5:13-15; 6:1-20 Symbol: 3 horns and wall
- December 12 – Gideon: Judges 6: 11-12,16-23;7:1-22 Symbol: horn and torch
- December 13 – Samson: Judges 16:4-31 Symbol: hair and scissors
- December 14 – Ruth: Ruth 1:1-19; 2:1-20; 4:13-17 Symbol: wheat
- December 15 – Samuel: 1 Samuel 3:1-18 Symbol: lamp
- December 16 – Jesse: 1 Samuel 16:1-13 Symbol: sheep & shepherd’s staff
- December 17 – David: 1 Samuel 17:12-51 Symbol: slingshot
- December 18 – Solomon: 1 Kings 3:5-28 Symbol: scale of justice
- December 19 – Elijah: 1 Kings 18:1-46 Symbol: fire & altar
- December 20 – Jonah: Jonah 1:1-16; 2:1-1; 3:1-10; 4:1-11 Symbol: whale
- December 21 – John the Baptist: Luke 3:2-19 Symbol: shell and water
- December 22 – Joseph: Matthew 1:18-24 Symbol: tools
- December 23 – Mary: Matthew 1:18-24; Luke 1:26-38 Symbol: Mary and lilies
- December 24 – Wise men: Matthew 2:1-12 Symbol: star and 3 men
- December 25 – Jesus: Luke 2:1-6 Symbol: baby Jesus