Monday, November 26, 2012

Jesse Tree: Introduction

From this coming Sunday (December 2) until Christmas I'll be taking a break from the book of Romans for our annual "Jesse Tree" tradition. Today's post will be an explanation and overview. Other posts this week will focus on preparations for a Jesse Tree. December 2 through Christmas will be a description of that day's theme, suggested reading(s) from Scripture, and a suggestion of a picture or practice that might be used on a tree or wall hanging.
Our Jesse Tree is a fun tradition that our daughters (5.5 and 4 yrs old) already remember and look forward to throughout the year. We set up our Christmas tree on the first day of Advent, then decorate it day by day with symbols that represent significant people in the Bible who prefigured or prepared for the coming of the Messiah. Each day we read from Scripture about a different person, individually and/or as a family. We hang the ornament(s) I've collected to represent that person, and I give each child an ornament-size picture to color and hang on the tree. The whole process could take as little as 5 minutes a day though we expand it a bit to 20 minutes or so. The goal is to have a fun tradition that reviews the history of our salvation each year and helps us focus our Christmas celebration more clearly on Christ Himself.
Like I said, we use our Christmas tree and hang ornaments day by day including the little pictures our children color. I understand not everyone is up for that, so here are some suggestions for ways you might also include a Jesse Tree in your Advent/Christmas celebration in a way that works well for your family:
  1. We use a fake tree partly because we want it to look nice all the way from the end of November to the beginning of January. You might prefer instead to...
    • hang a posterboard on a wall, perhaps cut or decorated with the shape of a Christmas tree or of a simple leafless deciduous tree with the central trunk and four branches (one for each week)
    • use a cloth banner decorated like the posterboard or with numbers like an Advent calendar
    • if you do not have young kids, simply read the Bible without ornaments of any kind
    • use a second, small "Christmas" tree used only for the Jesse Tree ornaments and not for Christmas ornaments
  2. I like to read about each Biblical character in my personal prayer time, then we also read aloud from a children's Bible during family devotions. You might prefer instead to...
    • choose one or the other so your not reading the same thing over twice every day
    • use whichever Bible translation you prefer
    • give your children a synopsis of the day's story rather than reading directly from a Bible
  3. We use 2 sets of ornaments: one more permanent that I've collected over the past several years and one coloring page for each child. You might prefer instead to...
    • use only nicer ornaments or even buy a Jesse Tree set
    • use only child-made ornaments, focusing on their interaction and making a new set each year
    • use the in-between option of free paper ornaments printed in color rather than haphazardly colored by a young child
I knew I wanted to have a Jesse Tree tradition in our family but it wasn't one I grew up with so it took some exploring to find out what that might look like and what works well for us. I found several resources online, but this site was definitely the most helpful for me. I've adapted it for our family, but the daily themes and the progression from week to week certainly started with their chart. Other resources give similar themes but their chart is very helpful in the way it's laid out, easy to read, and easy to use.
Linked to Link & Learn, Modest Monday, Works for Me Wednesday, Fellowship Friday, A Little R & R


  1. Thanks Esther for including me in this!

  2. I love this Jesse Tree tradition and am planning to do this with my kids this year. Thank You for sharing it and the resources.

    1. Glad to share. Hope you enjoy it!

  3. This reminds me that we bought a Jesse tree ornament set last year. I need to pull it out! It sounds like a great tradition and something our daughters (4 and 2) would really enjoy too. :) Thanks for sharing your ideas. The Happy Saints blog might have some nice colouring pages for the Jesse tree too.

  4. I keep hearing about the Jesse Tree and had no idea what it was. So, thank you for this post. My kids are still a wee too young for this, but next year my oldest will be almost 4 and youngest 2 1/2 so - this will be a wonderful new tradition to start in our home. Thank you for linking up! I hope you'll be back on Friday!