Catholic Activity: Jesse Tree Symbols
The Twelve Days of Christmas Kit includes suggestions for a Jesse Tree. Here are the explanations of nineteen symbols that can used on the tree.
- The Sun: Just as the natural sun gives light and life to all upon whom its rays fall so Christ, the Rising Dawn, dispels darkness and brings eternal life and light.
- The Tablets of the Law: The Law of Moses as symbolized in the tablets which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai was fulfilled in Christ Who brings a law of love.
- The Key of David: The key is the emblem of authority and power. Christ is the Key of the House of David Who opens to us the full meaning of the scriptural prophecies, and reopens for all mankind the gate of Heaven.
- Bethlehem: Seven hundred years before Christ's birth, Micheas prophesied that the Savior would be born in the town of Bethlehem. Bethlehem, which means "House of Bread," was appropriately designated as the birthplace of Christ, the Bread from Heaven.
- The Root of Jesse: The flower which springs up from the root of Jesse is another figure of Christ. Isaiah prophesied that the Savior would be born from the root of Jesse, that He would sit upon the throne of David, and in Christ this prophecy is fulfilled.
- The Star of David: The six-pointed star is the emblem of the Royal House of David even to this day. Christ Who is born of the House of David, can truly claim this emblem as His own.
- Jacob's Ladder: In a vision, Jacob saw a ladder reaching from heaven to earth, with angels descending and ascending. Christ, the Incarnate God, is the Ladder reuniting earth to heaven, mankind to God.
- Jonah in the Whale: As Jonah remained in the whale three days, so Christ remained three days in the earth after His death.
- The Temple: The Temple was God's dwelling place among the Jews of the Old Testament. His new Presence is within us.
- The Crown and Sceptre: The crown and sceptre signify Christ's universal kingship. As we sing in the fifth O Antiphon, Christ is not only the King of the Jewish nation, but the "Desired One of all," the cornerstone which unites both Jew and Gentile.
- The Sword of Judith: Judith of the Old Testament, who killed with a sword the leader of the Assyrian army, saved the Israelite nation. She prefigured Mary whose "Fiat" brought salvation to all mankind.
- The Burning Bush: God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush, which burned but was not consumed, a symbol of the Virgin Birth of Christ.
- Noah's Ark: A savior, Noah preserved the natural life of all within the Ark; Christ brings supernatural life to mankind and preserves that life within His Mystical Body the Church.
- The Ark of the Covenant: We address Mary as the Ark of the Covenant because she, like the Ark of the Old Testament, contained the most precious Gift of the New Law.
- The Altar of Holocaust: Sacrifice was offered daily on the Jewish altar of holocaust — a type of the Christian altar and the daily sacrifice of the Mass.
- The Apple: "O Happy Fault, whereby we have merited so great a Redeemer."
- The Paschal Lamb: At the yearly Pasch, the Jews sacrificed a new, unblemished lamb in thanksgiving for all that God had done for them and as an atonement offering for all their sins. This sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb was fulfilled in Christ, the "Lamb who takes away the sins of the world."
- The Pillar of Fire: In the Old Testament, God appeared in a pillar of fire to lead His people through the desert, as Christ leads us through the desert of life.
- Manna: The manna which the Jews ate in the desert for forty years was a symbol of Christ, the true Bread which descended from heaven.
The remaining days of Advent are the O Antiphon Days.
THE "O'S" OF ADVENT
December 17—O WISDOM, who came from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly— COME! and teach us the way of prudence. Symbols: Oil lamp, open book, dove (Holy Spirit)
December 18—O LORD AND GIVER of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush, and gave him the law on Sinai— COME! and redeem us with outstretched arm. Symbols: Burning bush, stone tablets
December 19—O ROOT OF JESSE, who stands for an ensign of the people, before whom kings shall keep silence, and unto whom the Gentiles shall make supplication— COME! to deliver us, and tarry not. Symbols: flower, plant with flower, root with flowering stem, stump with roots and flower growing
December 20—O KEY OF DAVID, and Sceptre of the House of Israel, who opens and no man shuts, who shuts, and no man opens— COME! and bring forth the captive from his prison, he who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death. Symbols: Key, broken chains
December 21—O DAWN OF THE EAST, brightness of the light eternal, and Sun of Justice— COME! and enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. Symbols: Sunrise, sun
December 22—O KING OF THE GENTILES and their desired One, the Cornerstone that makes both one— COME! and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth. Symbols: Crown and scepter
December 23—O EMMANUEL, our King and Lawgiver, the expected of the nations and their Savior— COME! to save us, O Lord our God. Symbols: Manger, Chalice and host, Crown with tablets
In addition: December 24—Snowflakes: The WORD OF GOD: "As the rain and the SNOW come down from heaven and...soak the earth and...make it to spring and give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be... It shall not return to Me void but it do whatever I please and shall prosper in the things for which I send it." (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Thus the snowflake and the raindrop are symbols of Christ the Incarnate Word of God.
Activity Source: Twelve Days of Christmas Kit by Grailville Writing Center, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 1955