Advent and the Jesse Tree // Catholic Christmas Traditions

Jesse Tree, Advent, stained glass, Chartes Cathedral, France

The Jesse Tree helps prepare us for Advent by journeying through the people on Jesus’s family tree. We find all the broken traits of humanity in Christ’s family tree — that birthed the most pure Saviour of the world.

Many of them are  troubled characters. Some of them are amazing and steadfast. All of them played a role to bring the world one step closer to salvation.  Each day of Advent, a Bible story is read about someone on Jesus’s family tree.  A picture (or ornament) represents the Bible stories. It proclaims Salvation History to us.

There are many options for incorporating the Jesse Tree into your Advent Tradition. You can use a mini-tree for the Jesse Tree symbols, or merely take them out of a box each night to illustrate the Scripture reading.  Use these free downloads: Jesse Tree ornaments and Scripture verses to get started.

Who was Jesse?

Jesse was the father of the great King David of the Old Testament. A grandson of Ruth– one of five women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. He also lived in Bethlehem, the place of Christ’s birth.

Church art depictions of a “family tree,” of Christ’s lineage shows his relationship to various people in the Bible. Many of the designs show a branched tree growing from a reclining figure of Jesse. It’s inspiration comes the Scripture verse,  “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” (Isaiah 11:1)  Since Jesus descends from the line of David, Christ is the branch God promised would grow from Jesse’s family tree.

It also shows that God’s plan unfolded in true historical events. That plan was the Redemption of man. The Jesse Tree is one way to teach salvation history because as St. Augustine said, “salvation history is like “a golden thread which binds together all the individual gems.”

More  Advent Resources

The Jesse Tree is not the only Advent activity helping us make our homes the “domestic church.”

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called ‘the domestic church,’ a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity” ( #1666).

Other  free resources for Advent activities include:

*Image: Jesse Tree Window, Chartres Cathedral, France. Wikicommons.