The olive tree is perhaps more closely associated with history and the growth of civilization than any other ancient tree.
According to Greek mythology, the Goddess Athena created the first olive tree during her battle with Poseidon, the Greek God of the sea. She won the competition and planted an olive tree at the Acropolis, providing the city of Athens with food, oil, shelter and wood.
Cultivation of olives began after 2000 B.C. in Crete. Producing and exporting olive oil to the rest of the Mediterranean, North Africa and Asia was crucial to the Greek island’s economy.
Homer referred to olive oil as “liquid gold”. To the ancient people in the Mediterranean, olive oil has always been used for more than just cooking food…it remains a key part of a healthy diet with its proven life-enhancing benefits.
Olive oil is still used in certain religious ceremonies. The Greek Orthodox Church uses it during baptisms.
At the first Olympic Games in 776 B.C., a wreath of olive branches was awarded to the winners.
The olive branch, a universal symbol of peace, was adopted by the UN for its iconic emblem.