Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays around the world. Years of family traditions are passed down during this season. One of the most special traditions during this time is decorating the Christmas tree.
While some may dress the tree up to look visually pleasing, others will adorn the tree with more meaningful ornaments. The Jesse Tree is one way to implement significance and purpose into the holiday season.
Through its decorations, it tells a story unlike any other. If you would like to up your Christmas game this winter, then consider celebrating with the Jesse Tree.
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What is the Jesse Tree?
The Jesse Tree is a way to tell the story of Jesus Christ’s lineage through ornaments. They can be hung on an actual Christmas tree, branches, or any other creative tree-shaped object or artwork. It begins on Advent when each day or each Sunday until Christmas a Bible story is read and the ornament that corresponds to that story is hung. The decorations on the Jesse Tree cover Creation to the birth of Christ.
Advent comes from the Greek word parousia and means “coming.” It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. Although the Jesse Tree looks back at the history of Jesus’s birth, it also looks forward to his second coming. The Jesse Tree is similar to an Advent calendar in that both are fun and creative ways to celebrate and countdown to December 25th, the day many recognize the Savior’s birth. While the Advent calendar can use any item or idea to count the days down, the Jesse Tree specifically uses stories from the Bible.
What is the Significance of the Jesse Tree?
The origins of the Jesse Tree are rooted in the prophetic scripture in Isaiah 11:1 which says, “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” The branch that God promised would grow from Jesse’s family tree is Jesus. Jesse is King David’s father. Since Jesus descended from the lineage of David, Jesse is related to the Savior.
The Jesse tree tells us the journey from the beginning of when God created the world until when He sent His only son to be born of a virgin birth through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a reminder of how God works through ordinary people, how much He loves us, and how long and how much we needed the perfect and sacrificial lamb to die for our sins. It is an exciting way to see how God was preparing the way for His Son through many generations.
When Should I Start a Jesse Tree?
Because the Jesse Tree follows Advent, then you should start on the fourth Sunday before Christmas. One way to confirm the start date is to search online “when does Advent begin in the year 2022” or whichever year you are planning to do the tree. For example, in the year 2022, the fourth Sunday before Christmas is November 27. So, the 27th would be day one of your Jesse Tree. But just remember, even though you begin decorating the tree on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, start preparing the ornaments and Bible stories a good amount of time beforehand.
What Do You Need to Start a Jesse Tree?
Jesse Tree Ornaments
The great thing about decorating your Jesse Tree is that there is no limit to how creative you can get. If you are crafty, then handmade ornaments give a special touch. Making ornaments with your family or friends is a great way to create unforgettable holiday memories.
It also does not have to cost a lot of money. You can create the ornaments with materials you or your friends already have around the house. Each of you can bring one of the items needed to make the ornaments. If you have kids, then you can turn ornament making into a game or weekend activity.
If you are low on time, then purchasing or using pre-made ornaments is a great option. Because of the availability that the internet offers, there are so many different options to choose from to decorate your Jesse Tree. You can type “Jesse Tree ornaments” in your search engine box to see all the different choices.
To narrow your search, you can add the words “printable,” “wooden,” “felt,” or any other material you would like the ornaments to be made of. You can also add “free” or “to buy” with your search depending on how much you would like to invest in it. To get the best of both worlds of already made handmade items, you can search websites like Etsy or visit your local craft fair during the holiday season.
One thing to consider before purchasing or making your ornaments is how long-lasting you want them to be. Is it something that you will be using over and over or is it a one-time thing? Knowing beforehand will save you time and money. I have included some fun Jesse Tree Ornament options below!
Of course, you will need a place to hang your beautiful ornaments. The most traditional way is to hang them on a Christmas tree. You can either use your main Christmas tree or buy a smaller, second tree.
The tree can be real or fake and the type of tree really is according to your preferences. But you can really branch out to what you hang or attach the ornaments on. Some people use different wooden sticks and fashion them in the shape of a tree.
Others have used jewelry hangers or Christmas lights taped to a wall. Any material you can mold to shape like a tree is a possibility for a Jesse Tree.
Bible or Devotional Readings for Jesse Tree
The last thing you will need to start a Jesse tree is the stories that go with the ornaments. Some already made ornaments come with the coordinating readings. If they do not, you can look up “Advent devotionals” or “Jesse Tree devotionals” on the internet.
You can also add keywords like “for kids” or “for families” to your search. One popular children’s book being used is The Jesus Storybook Bible which has 24 Old Testament stories. Another popular adult devotional is Ann Voskamp’s book Unwrapping the Greatest Gift. There is also always the option of putting the stories together yourself.
What are the Jesse Tree Stories and Symbols?
There are 24 Bible stories and symbols that go with the Jesse tree. Some stories and symbols vary, so you can choose which ones you feel you would like to incorporate into your devotionals.
- Creation: Genesis 1 (The Earth/Adam & Eve)
- Garden of Eden/The Fall: Genesis 2:4 – 3:24 (Tree with fruit/serpent)
- Noah’s Ark: Genesis 6:9-9:17 (Rainbow/Ark)
- God’s promise to Abraham: Genesis 15:1-6 (Tent/starry sky)
- Abraham sacrifices Isaac: Genesis 22:1-18 (Ram)
- Jacob’s Dream: Genesis 28:10-22 (Ladder)
- Joseph: Genesis 28:10-22 (Multicolored coat or robe)
- Moses: Exodus 2:1 – 4:20/Deuteronomy 5:1-22 (A burning bush/The 10 Commandments)
- Rahab: Joshua 2:1-21 (Red rope)
- Ruth & Boaz: Ruth 2:1-4:12 (Grain/sheaf of corn)
- King David: 1 Samuel 16:1-15 (A six-pointed ‘Star of David’/sheep & shepherd’s crook)
- Solomon’s Temple: 1 Kings:6 (Temple)
- Elijah and Baal’s Priests: 1 Kings 18:16-39 (Bonfire and altar)
- Esther: Esther 4 (Sceptor)
- Isaiah’s ‘Jesse’ Prophecy: Isaiah 9:2-7 (Tree stump with a single branch growing from it/A sun)
- Jonah and the Whale: Jonah 3:1-5 (Whale)
- Daniel: Daniel 6 (Lion)
- John the Baptist: Matthew 3:1-6 (Baptism shell)
- Elizabeth & Zechariah: Luke 1:5-25 (Praying Hands)
- Mary: Luke 1:26-38 (A white lily/Mary)
- Angel appears to Joseph: Matthew 1:18-25 (Angel)
- Mary and Joseph Go to Bethlehem: Luke 2:1-5 (Sandals)
- The Wisemen: Matthew 2:1-12 (A gold star/The three gifts or three crowns)
- Jesus’ Birth: Luke 2:1-21 (A baby in a manger/cross)
Jesse Tree Ornaments?
The Jesse Tree is a creative and enjoyable way to make Christmas a little more special and focused on the gift that God gave us. If it is your first time incorporating this tradition, keep things simple. The Bible stories will become more familiar as you continue reading them every year. Here are a few places online where you can get some Jesse Tree ornaments this year:
- If you sign up with your e-mail, Faithward has a free Jesse Tree toolkit complete with a guidebook, devotions, printable ornaments, and more.
- Confessions of a Homeschooler has a free Jesse Tree printable ornament download as well as a daily reading schedule.
- Proverbial Homemaker did the hard work for us and compiled a list of 25+ best ideas for DIY Jesse Tree ornaments.
- You can purchase pre-made ornaments from The Printery House which includes the yarn to hang the ornaments, cards with the scripture references and devotional, and a beautiful white gift box to keep all these in.
- If you have an Amazon account, there are many choices as well as the possibility of free shipping for your purchase. You can go with these 102 Pieces Wooden DIY Jesse Tree Ornaments if you are wanting to do a group project. Go magnetic with this 30 Piece Magnetic Jesse Tree and Ornaments. These Jesse Tree Advent Cards correspond with The Jesus Storybook Bible if you are using that as your devotional, or this DIY Felt Christmas Tree is a great option for little kids.
How can you and your family keep focused on the reason for the season? The Jesse Tree is one way that can keep your mind and heart aligned with the Savior’s birth and second coming. It reminds us and fills us with the hope that Christ has come, and Christ will come again.