A relatively new family tradition that aligns the Christmas tree more with the spirit of Advent.
Originally the Christmas tree itself was not brought into the family home until Christmas Eve and then stayed in the house throughout the liturgical season of Christmas, which extended into January.
It wasn’t until the mid-20th century, primarily in the United States, that the Christmas tree was brought into the home immediately following the celebration of Thanksgiving in November. Several generations have past since this custom was introduced and many different families, wanting to retain the spirit of Advent as a season of preparation, created a new custom that blended the two traditions.
It is called the “Jesse tree” and is focused on the biblical ancestors of Jesus.
The concept comes from a passage in Isaiah where the prophet says, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots” (11:1). Jesse is the father of King David and Jesus was born into that same line of David through his foster-father’s (Joseph) ancestry.
Over the centuries artists would depict the “Tree of Jesse” in various forms of religious artwork, depicting the genealogy of Jesus according to the Gospel accounts.
In regards to the Advent tradition, the tree is placed in the family’s home at the beginning of Advent and is initially left bare. Then each day a new ornament is added that corresponds to an episode/character in the Bible. By Christmas day the tree is entirely filled with ornaments and some families switch out the Advent ornaments for the traditional Christmas ornaments.
It is a great way to prepare for Christmas by learning about the events and characters who prepared the way for Jesus. There are many different ways to create a Jesse tree, including this option from Our Sunday Visitor. Simply search Google for “Jesse Tree Ideas” and there will appear countless other options. Chose one that best suits your family.
If you are looking for a different way to prepare for Christmas, consider making a Jesse tree.