Guest Post: The Jesse Tree

We’re thrilled to have our dear friend Christina guest post for us today!

One of my favorite Christmas traditions growing up was our “Jesse Tree,” a Christmas advent calendar tracing Jesus’ earthly heritage. The concept comes from Isaiah 11:1 “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” The advent calendar shows the ancestors of Christ and the patriarchs and prophets God used to keep the promise alive. On our version we include Adam & Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Judah, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Ruth, Jesse, David, Isaiah, Daniel, Esther, Joseph, Manger Scene, and the Risen Christ. (Scriptures accompanying this set of ancestors reproduced below.)


The Jesse Tree was a very special tradition in my family growing up. One of my best Christmas memories throughout my life is putting “Jesus” on top of the Jesse Tree on Christmas morning. My mother made the one pictured here, which is the same one our family still uses today. For the “tree” she sewed two burlap pieces together with batting in the middle and embroidered the front piece with red thread to make the family tree, finishing the edges with a woven red ribbon. Many of the symbols were homemade as well. For the “well” to symbolize Rebekah, my mom put a circle of cardboard on a cardboard base, glued small pebbles all over it and colored a cotton ball blue for the water. For Ruth she gathered up some small stalks of barley and tied them with a ribbon. And for Jesse, we have a literal root! J Others are easy to buy or use something you already have, like a figure of a lion for Daniel, or even a laminated picture. We attach our symbols to the tree with Velcro and that’s held up well. Overall it is a relatively easy project and so special for all the years of memories and lessons provided.

Now that I’m in the role of parent I can really appreciate the teaching qualities of this form of an advent calendar. Not only is it fun, providing a different symbol for each ancestor, it highlights the connection from the Old Testament stories and great figures to Christ, and his ultimate work. This provides a broader sense of connection between Christ and Christmas than even the commonly used prophesies in Isaiah.

I was pleased to see how well my kids have done with the Jesse Tree, even at the tender age of two or three, and especially now are they are getting older too. I found it especially valuable to read the corresponding Bible story every morning and then add the symbol to the tree. I love it when the kids go over to the tree and say, “This one is Adam and Eve, this one is Noah, this one is Abraham” etc. And it really helps them understand that when we put Jesus on the top of the Jesse Tree it is finally His birthday!

jesse tree scriptures

Adam and Eve: Genesis 1:26-31, 2:16, 3:24 (apple)
Noah: Genesis 6:5 – 8:22 (small ark)
Abraham: Genesis 12:1-8 (ram or tent)
Isaac: Genesis 21:1-8, 22:1-8 (lamb)
Rebekah: Genesis 24:1-67 (water pitcher)
Jacob: Genesis 25:21-34, 28:1-5 (ladder)
Judah: Genesis 37:26-37, 49:8-12 (lion)
Joseph: Genesis 37:1-36 (striped robe)
Moses: Exodus 1:7 – 2:10 (baby in basket)
Rahab: Joshua 2:1-22, 6:17-25 (braided red cord)
Ruth: Ruth (barley sheaf)
Jesse: Isaiah 11:1 (root)
David: 1 Samuel 16:13, 17:50, Psalm 23, 2 Samuel 5:4, 22:1-51 (star of David, harp, sling)
Isaiah: Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, ch.53, Micah 5:2 (scroll, Torah)
Daniel: Daniel 6 (lion)
Esther: Esther (scepter, crown, purple star)
Joseph: Matt. 1:18-25 (robed man, saw)
Manger Scene: Luke 2:1-20
Risen Christ

Christina family pic

Christina is married to her homeschool high school sweetheart. They live in the heart of the Rocky Mountains where she stays at home and homeschools their three children. The daily cry of her heart is that God do the work of 1 Cor. 13 in their hearts and home.

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One Response to Guest Post: The Jesse Tree

  1. Becky says:

    I LOVE this tradition! I never heard of it before I read this post. Thanks, Christina. 🙂 I bookmarked this post to save for next year when my little daughter will be old enough to start understanding this.

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