The olive tree has always been associated with religious practices, myths and traditions, artistic-cultural displays, medicinal uses and food. It was chosen as a sacred tree and was a symbol of victory and peace, progress, abundance, wisdom, justice and fertility.
In ancient Greece, women who wanted to have children spent long periods in the shade of olive trees and slept beneath their leaves. Royal artefacts were made from olive trees and monarchs, priests and athletes used to be anointed with olive oil as a blessing. Winner’s crowns were made with olive tree leaves.
Passages in the bible prove the existence of olive trees and their use since time immemorial. The Hebrews, for example, believe the olive tree and olive oil are from the time of Adam and Eve.
An old legend says that when Adam reached the age of 930 years, anticipating death, he remembered that the Lord had promised him the oil of mercy for his and Humanities redemption.
He sent his son Seth to the Garden of Eden where a cherub gave him three seeds collected from the tree of Good and Evil. Those three seeds sprouted in the mouth of Adam after his death and three trees were born on mount Tabor in the Hebron valley: the olive, the cedar and the cypress.
There is also a legend told that, in the time of Noah, a white dove carried a small olive branch to announce fair weather and the receding of the flood. Noah then introduced the olive tree among the first four crops: the olive tree, the fig tree, the grape vine and wheat.
The belief that olive oil conferred strength and youth was widespread. In ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, it was infused with flowers and plants to produce both medicine and cosmetics.
Fourteen hundred years ago the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, advised his followers to apply oil to their bodies and he himself used oil in his head.
During baptism in the Christian religion, holy oil, which is usually olive oil, is used for anointment and in some cultures it can be used to anoint the dead.
This proud and ancient heritage of the Mediterranean countries, the olive tree, is now spread all over the world, from Argentina, Australia, Chile, USA to Japan, Mexico, China and South Africa.