HISTORY OF THE OLIVE TREE



The olive tree is a blessed tree, which has been growing in the Mediterranean region for more than 7,000 years. It produces fruit under adverse conditions, and it also has longevity and offers great harvest. It is a tree that coexisted with the history of the Mediterranean peoples, as evidenced by the vessels and the myths that have survived. It first appeared probably in Syria and then continued its journey to Greece, other Mediterranean countries, America and Australia.  
The olive tree enlightened, nourished, cured, crowned, beautified and it was linked to high ideals. It is a symbol of knowledge, wisdom, abundance, peace, health, strength and beauty. It has been worshiped for thousands of years. Olive oil is produced from its fruit. Its leaves are fed to livestock. Its wood is used as fuel and as raw material in various arts such as sculpture. It is worth learning more about its invaluable contribution to our diets, our health, and culture. 

The gold and ivory statue of Zeus in Olympia was crowned with an olive branch. After Hercules completed his twelve labours, he brought olive saplings from the land of the Hyperboreans and planted them in Olympia. In the temple of Hera in Ancient Olympia, there was the so called "Kallistefanos Elia" olive tree, from which they made the "kotinos", the wreath of the Olympic champions.
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All the peoples of the Mediterranean adorned various everyday objects they used with drawings of olive trees and olives, seeking to show their appreciation towards the sacred tree. This homage, however, also continued in much later years. K. Palamas praised the olive. Van Gogh immortalized it in the paintings. The people sang about it in folk songs. The ancient Romans turned it into jewellery and planted it in every corner of their empire. The Minoan civilization adorned the murals of the palace of Knossos with olives. The gold glasses found in the tomb of Vafeio in Mycenae were also adorned with olive trees.
 
Later, in Greek tradition, the birth of a child was accompanied by the planting of an olive tree. When the child entered the age of six, the olive tree was just beginning to give its first fruit. In Portugal, they used olive branches to ward off evil demons. In other parts of the world, the earth was sprinkled with olive oil, so it would give them a good crop in return. In Christianity, vigil lights burn with the help of olive oil. Similarly, in the sacraments of baptism and extreme unction, the priest uses the oil again. From all this, we conclude that the olive tree has travelled through the centuries, becoming an integral part of human history.
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