GREECE & THE OLIVE TREE
“The Mediterranean ends where the olive tree no longer grows”1. One could say the same of Greece. The olive tree has always been present in Greek life, tradition, mythology, art and religion. It is a tree with infinite symbolic meanings and, according to Homer, its “golden liquid” was a holy symbol of power, good fortune, spirituality, perseverance, conciliation and propitiation.
The legend of the olive tree has nurtured the Greek traditions that survive to this day: from the kotinos, the wild olive tree that Hercules planted in Ancient Olympia to crown the heads of the Olympic Games winners, to the first domesticated olive tree that the goddess Athena gifted to Athens, as the city’s patron deity.
Today, the olive is the most cultivated fruit-bearing tree in Greece. For thousands of years, it has prospered in the hospitable Greek soil, growing in the arid, stony lands and flourishing thanks to the sun, the mild winter, the rainy autumn and the dry Greek summers.
In fact, the oldest olive tree in the world, perhaps even more than 3,000 years old, still stands in the village of Vouves in Crete.
Simantirakis, V., Lykoudi, M., Elea i Kallistefanos, Library of Attica Bank.