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The Jesse Tree Redux

By Jennifer Gregory Miller ( bio - articles - email ) | Nov 17, 2021 | In The Liturgical Year

The First Sunday of Advent is less than two weeks away. This year the planning and decorating for Thanksgiving and Advent will have to overlap, since Advent falls the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

The Jesse Tree remains a popular devotion in Advent. Many families and communities love the process of doing an ornament exchange with others and every year there seems to be a new book or ornaments to purchase with new interpretations.

It can be such a lovely tradition, leaving fond memories. But I want to be intentional when starting a new religious tradition in the family, and ponder a few questions before committal:

  • What is its purpose?
  • What is my overall goal in spiritual growth in trying to add something that will have a daily component?
  • How will it look with my family? Are my children too old/young? Will they outgrow it?
  • Will starting this overwhelm me with the time commitment?
  • Is there room for freedom and choice and expansion by the children?
  • And is there flexibility for when we miss a few days during Advent?

Five years ago I shared a two part series on the Jesse Tree, where I answered many of these questions. I won’t rehash all these points but encourage rereading the posts. My thoughts have not changed, but actually have solidified.

As I have been thinking more about the Jesse Tree, this year I have revamped and expanded Catholic Culture’s Jesse Tree. Previously the Jesse Tree had options for 19 days, with the Jesse Tree ending on December 17 with the O Antiphons. The days for the Jesse Tree are now expanded to 28 choices, with two extra options with the Annunciation and the Visitation, with the intention of daily adding the O Antiphons with the Jesse Tree figure. This will cover the longest possible Advent. On shorter Advents there are suggestions on days to double up for the figures.

Catholic Culture’s Jesse Tree (revised November 2021)
1. Creation 15. Jesse
2. Adam and Eve 16. King David
3. Fall of Man 17. King Solomon
4. Noah 18. Elijah
5. Abraham 19. Jonah
6. Sarah 20. Micah
7. Melchizedek 21. Judith
8. Isaac 22. Daniel
9. jacob 23. Isaiah
10 Joseph 24. Zechariah
11. Moses 25. Elizabeth
12. Joshua 26. St. Joseph
13 Samuel 27. Mary
14. Ruth 28. John the Baptist
Annunciation Visitation

The list of figures for the Jesse Tree does not follow a particular book or website. I chose people of the Old and New Testament who play a larger role in Salvation History, or are strong types of Christ (like Jonah). If you are looking for a pre-made set of ornaments, Jesse Tree Treasures has beautiful offerings, with the ability to customize the ornaments.

With each entry, there is an image, suggested symbols, a Scripture quote, and a short explanation. In addition, there are expanded Scripture references for further reading, and links to sections in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Catholic Culture’s readership is varied, so the offerings are left open for simply a short reading or room for personal expansion. In addition, there are new navigational links to make it easier to maneuver through the different days.

Over the years many readers have expressed gratitude for Catholic Culture offering a daily entry to help center their day around the Liturgical Year. To expand one’s Advent prayer devotions, each Liturgical Day of Advent will have the link to the page with the Jesse Tree figure for the day.

For further information, see Catholic Culture’s Jesse Tree Overview that includes a table with links to all the Jesse Tree figures, and a summary of symbols and Scripture references. There is also printable Jesse Tree guide that follows the Catholic Culture Jesse Tree: The Jesse Tree: Advent 2021.

Jennifer Gregory Miller is an experienced homemaker, mother, CGS catechist and authority on living the liturgical year. She is the primary developer of CatholicCulture.org’s liturgical year section. See full bio.

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