Making Your Own Jesse Tree


Beginning a new Advent Tradition in your family could not be simpler. A Jesse Tree is a simple ritual that comes with a prayer (see this article) that takes a few minutes. Prepare your family for the joy of Christmas whilst introducing them to the many extraordinary men and women of the Hebrew Scriptures. For more information on the tradition and origins of the Jesse Tree, check out this article.

Easy As. Use the templates to either colour and cut (or simply cut the colour version). Punch a hole in the top, thread some ribbon and hang away!

Download Template Here

Branches of Life and Light. Create a dedicated Jesse Tree with some fresh foliage or fallen branches from your garden or a nearby park. Alternatively, purchase some commercial ‘fairy-light’ branches. Arrange them in a vase or bucket. For a Southern Hemisphere variation, decorate one of your garden trees for an outdoor Jesse Tree experience.

Alternative Materials. Fancy a bit more of a challenge? Make your symbols from things found around the house. E.g. for Isaac wrap some cinnamon sticks or garden twigs with twine. For Moses, stone tablets can be made from modelling clay or baked dough.

Some families band together and distribute the symbols. They each make enough copies of the one symbol for each family.

Wall Hanging. If space is at a premium, consider drawing a tree on some poster board. Alternatively, make a banner with heavy material and use fabric scraps to create your symbols.

Garland. Discard the tinsel and make a garland with your Jesse Tree symbols. String some satin cord across your mantelpiece, bookcase or cupboard. Add your symbols one by one with clips or ribbon.

Fanfold Paper Banner. Create a long cardboard fanfold (12cm/5” high, 10cm/4” wide and x number of Jesse symbols long).  Fold so that you have one ‘fanfold face’ for each symbol. Use decorative papers to create your symbols or use the templates attached.

Jesse Cards and Gifts. For something in the ‘season’ but a bit different to the usual themes, make your Christmas cards with Jesse symbols. Want a gift tag that people will keep and use throughout the year? Make it in the shape of a bookmark.

Calling all Holy Men and Women. Use the Litany of Jesse found here, an adaptation of the Litany of Saints, to pray up some serious prayer power!

Jesse Tree Symbols

Decide how many you will need – if you plan to do one symbol each day of December, you’ll need 24. If you only expect to do this once a week, choose four symbols. It’s entirely up to you! The list is not exhaustive – there are many other great prophets and ancestors in the Jewish story.

Spiritual Ancestor

Symbol (choose one)

God the Father Gen 1 Sun, Earth
Adam & Eve Gen 2,3 Fruit, fig leaves, male & female figure
Noah Gen 9 Ark, Rainbow, Dove with olive branch
Abraham Gen 18 Star, grains of sand
Sarah Gen 18:9-14 Tent, pregnant woman
Isaac 22:13-14 Woodpile, fire, ram
Rebekah Gen 28:10-17 Camel, water jug
Jacob Gen 29:10-17 Ladder
Rachel Gen 29:9-12 Shepherd’s crook
Joseph Gen 37:3 Colourful coat
Moses Ex 3:1-6 10 Commandments, burning bush
Miriam Ex 15:20-21 Music notes, tambourine
Deborah Jud 4:4-5 Palm tree
Samuel 1 Sam 3:1-3 Lamp
Ruth Ruth 2:1-9 Bundled straw, ear of wheat
Jesse Is 11:1 Root, branch
David 1 Sam 16:17-18 Slingshot, harp, crown
Solomon 1 King 5:2-5 Scales, temple columns
Isaiah Is 6:1 Throne
Daniel Dan 6:16-24 Lion
Jonah Jon 1,2 Big fish
Elizabeth Lk 1:39-45 Dove
John the Baptist Mt 3:1-6 River, water, camel hair tunic
Joseph Mt 1:18-25 Hammer, angel
Mary (Miriam)Lk 1:26-35 Heart, lily, angel
Jesus (Yeshua)Lk2:1-7 Manger, Chi-Rho, star of Bethlehem

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Francine Pirola

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