Jesse Tree

Jesse Tree

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The Tradition of the Jesse Tree

The Jesse Tree is an old Christmas tradition that started in Medieval times. It was used to tell the story of the Bible from Creation to the birth of Christ.

The name comes from Jesse, the father of King David.

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him…the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord…and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.” Isaiah 11

A branch is a symbol of new life and new beginnings. Jesus is a descendent of King David, and Christians believe that he is the new branch. The first Jesse Trees were large carvings, Stained Glass Windows and Tapestries that helped the illiterate to learn about the Bible stories.

Symbols used and their meaning

Moon & Sun  -  Creation

Fruit  –  Adam & Eve, Garden of Eden

Boat  –  Noah and the flood

Sword  –   Abraham

Ram  –  Issac

Ladder  –  Jacob’s ladder

Coat  –  Joseph’s coat

Burning bush  –  Moses

Menorah  –  Israelites

Scroll  –  10 Commandments

Harp – King David

Sheath of Corn  –  Ruth

Sling & stone  –   David & Goliath

Temple  –  Solomon’s Temple

The word Listen  –  Elijah

Tree stump/branch  –  Jesse at the base of the tree

Locust  –  John the Baptist

Lily  –  Mary

Hammer  –  Joseph

Symbol of Christ  –  Jesus


Clay, stains, acrylics, collage on wood

H 90.5 x W 44 X D 5 cm