Teach your children the Bible stories of creation through Jesus’ birth this Christmas using a Jesse Tree to focus on the true reason for the season.
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THE REASON FOR THE CHRISTMAS SEASON
Christmas is my favorite time of year. The hot chocolate, the movies, the lights, the presents, and…SANTA!
There’s something magical about the holiday season that seems to bring out the best in people.
However, if I’m not intentional, I miss the opportunity to teach my kids about the reason for the season. Christmas can easily become more about Santa rather than Jesus when we spend most days leading up to it talking about food, family, and presents.
I don’t want to miss this perfect chance to reinforce all of the things I teach my children throughout the year:
- Be kind
- Love others
- Treat others the way you want to be treated
- Take care of those in need
- Be thankful
So through some advice of other seasoned moms, a little creativity and a little too much time on Pinterest, I’ve found ways to create traditions that train our children to focus on Jesus all month long. One of my favorites is the “Jesse Tree”, which we use as our Advent Calendar at Christmastime.
THE ANCIENT TRADITION OF THE JESSE TREE
When my son was 2 years old, I learned about something called a Jesse Tree. It’s a way of connecting the tradition of decorating the Christmas Tree with the story of Jesus. In some form or another, the tradition of the Jesse Tree has been used for over 1,000 years!
The Jesse Tree tells the stories from creation to Christmas, highlighting the people, prophesies and events leading up to Jesus’ birth.
Jesse, the father of David, is mentioned in an Old Testament prophecy about his connection to the future King—the Son of God.
The Branch From Jesse "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 of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked." Isaiah 11:1-4
The branch symbolizes a new beginning—Jesus is the new branch!
HOW WE USE THE JESSE TREE TRADITION
I started searching on the Internet for ways to duplicate this tradition in my home, but everything I found seemed too formal or expensive. So using the Bible, I came up with a reading plan for every night in December leading up to Christmas.
Each night we read the story, look at the pictures, and predict what will happen. Then, we find the ornament that symbolizes our story and add it to our tiny tree. As we approach Christmas, our tree fills up with stories from the Bible.
I like to place our tree on the dinner table, so that we can quiz the kids about previous stories or even read the next one while we eat. Having it in front of us each night helps remind us to keep up with the schedule. It also keeps the story of Jesus at the center of our focus, instead of the list of presents we hope to get.
I am so excited to share these with you and hope that you are inspired to start this new tradition with your family this Christmas! The lights, the presents, and the Santa parts of Christmas are amazing, yes!–but I want to make sure that I am being intentional in teaching my kids that Jesus is the reason for the season.
ORDER YOUR OWN JESSE TREE ORNAMENTS
I’ve created a set of printable Jesse Tree ornaments that you can use to teach your children the story of creation to Christmas! You can print a full-color set for your family or individual sets for each of your children to have their own tree. I’ve also included black and white versions to use as coloring pages for a fun activity.
**TIP: I have included the Bible reading plan, but the stories can get lengthy, so using a Children’s Bible is a great substitute until they get older. I recommend The Beginner’s Bible to use with these printables.**
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE…
For more posts on Christmas activities, check out:
- 5 Tips for Teaching Your Children the Reason for the Season This Christmas
- Print this Christmas Eve Itinerary to Make Your “Staycation” Special
- An Oldies Christmas Playlist You Can Listen To Right Now For Free!
- 10 Christmas Movie Nights + Treats for Your Family
- The Ultimate Family Winter Bucket List Printable
I wish you the very best this Christmas season!
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