I never knew anything about the Jesse Tree until my writer Tanja Cilia wrote about it in Storytime Tapestry, my E Zine. I won’t even have the link to post for other sites until tomorrow because the Jesse Tree from Tanja and my article is going out at the same time. If you want to read Tanja’s Jesse tree article check back with me tomorrow and I will have the link for you, or you can visit the archives of Storytime Tapestry at the point as well.
Now back to the story at hand.
Okay we all know about the Christmas tree that has been a part of the Christmas festivities for Christians for over two thousand years. However certain Christian groups have attacked the Christmas tree for not being Christian in origin since the Christmas tree has its roots in pagan traditions.
There are many stories of the origin of the Christmas tree actually, some trace the origin as far east as Egypt. However, in the West we are more familiar with the European pagan traditions.
It is said that St. Boniface of Germany rescued a young boy from pagan sacrifice under a beautiful evergreen tree which he cut down and brought back to his people stating that this tree was a holy tree, and so in 722, St. Boniface declared this tree to be, “the tree of the Christ child, and a symbol of His promise of eternal life.”
The Germans and Scandinavians used Christmas trees both inside and outside their homes to celebrate the coming of a prosperous spring. Martin Luther, in the 1500’s is also attributed to the origins of the Christmas tree. He was said to be out walking one day and admiring the beauty of the snow on the branches of the evergreen trees. He brought one into his home in celebration of the Christ Child.
Similar stories about German origins show Queen Victoria and Prince Albert enjoying the Christmas tree and all its ornaments. They brought the tradition back to England where the English commoners adopted the tradition in the 19th century.
All these stories foster the belief that the beautiful green of the tree will bring in a warm fruitful spring and so it was common to use these trees during the wintertime.
Pagan traditions or not, as we can see, the Christmas tree has been incorporated into Christian Christmas traditions.
Certain churches incorporate the Christmas tree along with other types of tress and traditions during their holy season. At the beginning of Advent the Hanging of Greens ceremony places emphasis on the use of evergreen trees that was also an integral part of the ancient Roman traditions, “evergreens were an emblem of peace, joy, and victory. The early Christians placed them in their windows to indicate that Christ had entered the home. Holly and ivy, along with pine, and fir are called evergreens because they never change color. They are ever – green, ever – alive, even in the midst of winter. They symbolize the unchanging nature of our God, and they remind us of the everlasting life that is ours through Christ Jesus.”
Other churches will use a Chrismon Tree. Its name was derived from the words Christ and monograms. A Chrismon Tree is a tree made with handmade ornaments, all representing Christian symbols. Some churches will incorporate the Chrismon Tree with the Jesse Tree. The Jesse tree is another symbolic tree celebrating the advent or the coming of Christmas.
The Jesse tree is a large banner, or tree with different Old Testament symbols. The children of the congregation usually decorate the tree each week, and some churches add articles of clothing and food to hand out to the poor during the Christmas season.
The Jesse Tree originates in the old testament texts, in Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots.” It is a vehicle to tell the Story of God in the Old Testament, and to connect the Advent Season with the faithfulness of God across 4,000 years of history. The Branch is a biblical sign of newness out of discouragement, which became a way to talk about the expected messiah (e.g., Jer 23:5). It is therefore an appropriate symbol of Jesus the Christ, who is the revelation of the grace and faithfulness of God.”
For other biblical text supporting the Jesse Tree I do hope you will read Tanja’s article in Storytime Tapestry E-zine. There is more information also on the Internet.