I have recently had the realisation that I have so much to learn in life, and that I have missed out on some beautiful experiences in life because I wasn’t brought up a Catholic, so missed out on some wonderful, and very spiritual traditions. one of these traditions, which I recently discovered was the Advent Jesse Tree.
The Tree takes its name from Jesse who was the father of King David and who is viewed as the first person listed in Jesus’ genealogy. Isaiah 11: 1 says that ‘A shoot shall come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots’. From this verse is born the tradition of the Jesse tree.
Jesse trees come in many types, shapes and sizes but the basic idea is that a tree is decorated with ornaments that symbolise people, prophesies and important events that led up to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. If I explain that the first ornament marks the creation of the world that gives you the scope of how many thousands of years are covered by the ornaments and associated scriptures, in the 24 days leading up to Christmas!
Introducing this tradition to your family does not need to be expensive and making your tree and ornaments can be a fun activity for every family member to get involved in. You can use a small artificial tree, arrange bare branches in a vase, use a paper cut-out (and blue- tack paper ornaments on) or sew a fabric tree (and use fabric ornaments stuck on with Velcro). There is no right and wrong way to make a tree and this is all about creating a tradition that works for your family in your home. Similarly with Jesse tree ornaments, you can buy ornaments online but you can also make them yourself. There are several great books out there which contain templates for ornaments that you can make and there are printable ornaments on several websites (see the link at the end for the printable ornaments I use, courtesy of Michele Quigley’s wonderful website).
Each day, after dinner we add an ornament to our Jesse tree and read the accompanying scripture. We have found that the time just after dinner works for us as the baby is no longer hungry and we can all enjoy that time together before we have to go and do homework and chores. Maybe doing this at breakfast time or just before bed would work for your family; we all have different schedules, and this really is all about creating a meaningful spiritual tradition that works for you.
7 of the decorations are slightly different from the others. These represent the O Antiphons (mine have golden ribbon). The ‘Great Os’ are take from the Magnificat and are the antiphons used at Vespers between the 17-23rd December, in the Roman Catholic church. Each title begins with ‘O’ and they all draw from the Messianic hopes of the Old Testament. Each antiphon also uses the word ‘come’ to remind us that Advent is a time to prepare for the Second Coming.
I really love the Jesse Tree and the fact it helps me and my family focus on the prophesies regarding Jesus birth and the fact that the Second Coming I prophesied and promised to us all.
If you would like to make your own Jesse Tree I can recommend taking a look at the following books:
There are loads of great online resources too and I got my Jesse Tree decorations from:
But here are a couple of other sites to check out:
If you know of any other great books or sites then please let me know in the comments below.