Friday, December 16, 2016

The Jesse Tree: An Advent Tradition ♦ June Foster

Read Isaiah 11:1-2, 10

Bringing you a special Christmas article from author June Foster. I don't think I've ever heard of a Jesse Tree. This is most interesting to me, and I hope you'll enjoy it. too!

Though our primary focus at Christmas is to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus, it's a time to think about family and friends as well. We get so busy with our lives that the season is a wonderful opportunity for us to think about the importance of family. The older I get, the more valuable brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, and spouse become.

If you haven't already, start a family tradition. Even when children grow up and have families of their own, it's likely they will remember fun family activities and incorporate them into their own lives.
I remember one Christmas we created a Jesse Tree. By this time, our daughters were teenagers with boyfriends. We all gathered at our home for dinner then adjourned into the living room where our Christmas tree, bare except for lights, stood ready for ornaments.

First, we read the story of the Jesse Tree which tells, through the use of symbols, the Biblical story from creation to the birth of Christ. In Medieval times, when the tradition of the Jesse Tree first began, people created large carvings, tapestries or even stained glass windows to place in churches for members of the congregation who were illiterate. Today the Jesse Tree symbols are used on advent calendars or banners in the shape of a tree.

So, now it was time to get creative. Each family member chose a couple of symbols for ornaments they wished to construct from the variety of materials I had accumulated and set out on the dining room table. When the ornaments were completed, we hung them on the tree. The next week we gathered again and told the Christmas story. In the correct order, each person removed their ornament, told the story and replaced it on the tree. Afterward we prayed and asked the Lord to help us keep Christmas in our hearts every day of the year.

Here are some of the story elements and their symbols.

Creation - the earth
Garden of Eden - a tree with an apple
Noah & the Flood - a rainbow
God's promise to Abraham - a tent
Isaac - a ram
Jacob's Ladder - a ladder
Joseph's coat - a multi-colored coat
Moses - a burning bush
Israelites and Passover - a lamb
the 10 commandments - two stone tablets
Joshua and the fall of Jericho - a ram's horn trumpet
Ruth - a sheaf of corn
King David - a six pointed star
Jonah and the whale - a whale
John the Baptist - a scallop shell
Mary - a white lily
Joseph -  a carpenter's hammer
The Wise Men - three gifts
The Shepherds - a fluffy sheep
Jesus - a baby in a manger

♦ ♦ ♦

An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. In 2013, June's book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC's eBook awards and in 2014 a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan's Father was one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the 2014 Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. 

Deliver Us was a finalist in COTT's 2014 Laurel Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan's Father is published by WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from The Almond Tree series, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, and What God Knew are available at as well. Misty Hollow is published by Helping Hands Press. 

June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. Recently June has seen publication of Christmas at Raccoon Creek and Almond Street Mission

Visit June at
Find her on Twitter @vjifoster


  1. Thank you, June! As I said above, I've never heard of a Jesse Tree, so, as I edited this post for publication, I had to do some research. Hence, the Jesse Tree image above.

  2. Thanks for having me today, Peg. Hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas. June