Olive tree is the most valuable tree of Greece and its value is counted in the numerous generations that have been raised and blossomed with it. It has been strongly connected with the country for thousands of years. It is a symbol of peace, wisdom, fertility and victory. It nourishes, inspires and heals. The olive tree is considered blessed. Along with the tree, our land is also blessed with the millions of olive trees that survive and produce their valuable fruit, even under difficult conditions.
According to the earlier mythology, the first olive tree was planted on Acropolis by goddess Athena in the temple of the Erehtheion and was named Morea olive. Others say it was a gift of the goddess Athena to residents of the city of Athens, when quarreled with the god Poseidon, for the name of the city. Then, citizens gave its name to the city and the goddess taught them the cultivation of olive trees. The Athenians in their currencies depicting Athena with an olive wreath on her helmet and an amphora with olive oil.
Athenians considered themselves civilized and were holding olive branches, while the barbarians and slaves kept an oak twig, as more primitive tribes. The messengers of peace held an olive branch. The winners of Olympic Games were awarded with an olive wreath and a large container of olive oil that had so big value that automatically made them rich.
Homer in his writings, called it “pure liquid gold”. The Greek philosophers, Dioscourides, Diocles, Anaxagoras and Empedocles studied the medicinal properties of olive oil, while Aristotle revealed the science of oil production. Moreover, Solon created laws that banned the cutting of more than two olive trees, to protect olive growers. In ancient Greece, olive oil has kept the leading part in many commercial action, and it is said to be the backbone of trade in the ancient world.
But olive oil was more than a symbol of virtue and wealth, as it is was also used in other applications. The ancient Greeks rubbed their bodies and hair with olive oil and used it to heal wounds and treat diseases. Apart from the food products that it produced (olives and olive oil) its wood was used for fuel and wood carving. According to mythology, Hercules, in his 12 labors, kept a bat that was made of olive wood, and that when he finished his battles with success, he planted an olive tree in Ancient Olympia. Nowadays, a lot of wooden furniture and tools are handmade from olive wood. The growing of the olive tree was also a measure of time. When a child was born, an olive tree was planted. By the time the tree bared fruit for the first time (6 years later), they knew that the child had reached school age.
Altogether, the history of Olive oil is weaved together with the history of Greece. Olive oil can be found in many human activities, and above all in our nutrition. It is beneficial for every age, it is the basis of the Mediterranean diet (wins the first place in medical researches), has multiple applications and is deeply appreciated.
It is now, more than ever, a necessity to highlight Greek olive oil at a global level, as a certified quality product, symbol of the Greek agricultural production for thousands of years.