A Jesse Tree is a depiction of the
genealogy of Jesus designed in such a way as to show
that He springs from the "root of Jesse” per the
prophecy of Isaias 11:1: And there shall come forth a
rod out of the root of Jesse [David's father], and a
flower shall rise up out of his root.
Some Jesse Trees depict the 28
generations listed in Matthew – starting with Jesse and
ending in Jesus. Others depict representatives from that
genealogy (Jesse, David, Solomon, etc.) as do most
medieval Jesse Trees. Most modern Jesse Trees use
symbols which summarize the Old Testament and show,
basically, the history of the world up to Christ (Adam
and Eve, Noe, Abraham, etc.).
A Jesse Tree in the home then is simply the Advent
custom of using a collection of symbols that portray the
fact that Jesus has come, as predicted, from the root of
Jesse. These symbols can be hung on a small, literal
tabletop-sized tree, or on a branch brought in from
outside. They can be hung on small artificial trees made
of wood or metals, or on two-dimensional wooden trees.
The symbolic ornaments – which can vary from family to
family – can be storebought or homemade – for example,
painted onto wooden rounds, wood carved into shapes,
embroidered onto linen rounds which are then sewn onto
round hoops to hold their shape, painted on paper, cut
out from cardboard, etc. Gorgeous paintings and graphics
could be scanned, printed out, and glued onto wood and
shellacked. Or they can be made, like Christmas Tree
ornaments, out of “Baker’s Clay.”
Some families add ornaments to their Jesse Trees one
each day, starting on 1 December to time with the Advent
O Antiphons (24 ornaments); others add them all at
once on 1 December. Some make Jesse trees that stress
prophecy, with symbols of the Old Testament Prophets and
the Sibyls; others make ones that stress the history of
the world from creation.
The point of any Jesse Tree should be to
show that Christ springs from the root of Jesse, per
Isaias's prophecy, and with the Infant Christ being held
by Mary at the apex.
Here’s helpful website that includes some
ideas for how to make your own.