12 months with the Olive Tree
The Routes of the Olive Tree
The content of this page is republished from the excellent publication
"12 Months with the Olive Tree" of the Cultural Organization "The
Routes of the Olive Tree" - Chamber of Commerce and Industry
of Messinia, Greece.
This publication is not available in bookstores and I was very
lucky to find one from a friend. As soon as I read it I contacted
the people who published it and I asked their permission to copy
part of it for the "Explore Crete" site. It was the only way to
offer part of this excellent book to the public.
thousands of years, the tree par excellence of the Mediterranean
region, the olive tree, has coexisted with the peoples of the Mediterranean
, connected to their daily lives and customs, it has gone beyond
the boundaries of the landscape, leaving its traces in all the
civilizations which have developed on its shores.
The olive tree, a gift of nature is not only the key to understanding
the evolution of many areas, but also a challenge to travel following
the routes of its rich history around the Mediterranean : The Mediterranean
of the olive tree.
The Cultural Tour "The Routes of the Olive Tree" is
a stroll along these primordial roads full of olive trees. It is
an attempt to promote olive products and their everlasting value
for man through cultural events inspired by the olive tree's past
and future, with the contribution of all the olive producing countries
of the Mediterranean.
President of the Messinia Chamber of Commerce & Industry
physiognomy of a people or society is shaped, among other things,
through dialogue with their natural surroundings.
If one has
to define this familiarity with nature, for the Greeks and
other Mediterranean people, a fruit bearing tree which influenced
not only social and economic reality but also the field of
worship, beliefs and customs, without doubt is the olive
The olive tree
"Tree full of paternal fairy tales,
it as blessing and security"
(I. M. Panayotopoulos)
If a have wine,
bread and olive oil at home
each and every night
I sleep like a king with my wife.
(Rhyming couplet, Crete)
olive tree being indigenous first appeared in the eastern Mediterranean
where some of the most ancient civilizations developed.
archaeological research in the Cyclades, the heart of the
Aegean, brought to light fossilized olive leaves, which according
to modern methods of chronology are 50-60 thousand years old
a few drops of oil from Saint Nicholas' oil lamp, the sailors
calm the sea...
A few drops
of oil in water are enough to ward off the "evil eye".
most ancient testimonies of the olive and its oil were
discovered in ancient Pylos. Ancient urns on which the harvesting
of the olive and olive oil warehouses are depicted, tablets
of Linear B writing on which the ideograms of the olive and
olive oil are scribed, are discoveries that prove that Messinia
is one of the oldest homelands of the olive.
The cultivation of the olive tree has continued to spread
for many centuries and constitutes one of the main activities
of inhabitants. Reliable testimony states that there was major
olive oil production during the Byzantine period in numerous
areas of Greece such as the Peloponnese, while its production
and commercialization strengthened the economy in many areas
of Greece from the 18 th century onwards.
oil is considered an excellent aphrodisiac, especially when
it originates from the wild varieties of olives.
In Greece the
characterization of bribery as "oiling" is due to
the fact that in traditional economy it was for centuries a
stable means of exchange with which mainly the agricultural
population used in their exchanges.
source of life, the olive tree is present in the text of ancient
and contemporary Greek writers and poets.
Enchanted by its radiance and its wonderful primordial tales,
which only the olive tree can tell so well, it has been celebrated
like no other tree because it has been cherished so.
Without the olive tree the Mediterranean landscape would be
destitute and the Greek artists and poets would have lost a
unique source of inspiration.
if there were no olive groves...
I would dream
( Odysseas Elytis )
who eats oil and bread or olive oil pie
is never touched by death's arrows"
(Ryming Couplet Crete)
use of the olive tree and its products in ancient ceremony
defined it as the Tree of Good from very early on, giving it
a prominent position.
Precious and loved tree of the Greeks
and other Mediterranean people, associated with renaissance
and light, it is still considered to he a divine gift even
A symbol of peace, protection and fertility, its oil
like wheat and wine is used in many of the Christian Orthodox
rituals until today.
"Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The similitude of His light is as a niche wherein is a lamp. The lamp is in a glass. The glass is as a shining star. Kindled from a blessed tree, an olive neither of the east nor of the west, whose oil would almost glow forth though no fire touched it. Light upon light, Allah guides to His light whom He will. And Allah speaks to mankind in allegories, for Allah is knower of all things.!"
( the Koran )
- Do you love trees Georgie?
She asked me. Which one do you love the most?
- I love the olive tree the most.
- Me too! When I die, plant an olive
tree in the center of my grave to
suck me up with its roots. Every year
from the fruit it bears, light my oil-
- Live a long life. I know what
monument I'll build for you when the
- What? She exchaimed. Don't forget
the olive tree! I am not afraid to die,
it's as if I know that a small light will
be lit from my bones.
( Pantelis Prevelakis )
tree, which thrives almost exclusively in the Mediterranean
basin and its method of cultivation are basic elements for
the preservation and stability of the ecosystem.
It has existed
and provided fruit for centuries, is cultivatable on every
terrain and is utilized completely: fruit, foliage, wood
The olive tree aids the prevention of erosion in areas of
acute desolation and constitutes a primary factor for the development
of areas with serious problems of employment and cohesion.
olive tree: Symbol of serenity, fertility peace.
branches were made into wreaths to crown the winners at the
Olympic Games and the precious juice from its fruit, the
olive oil, was the prize of the winners at the famous Panathenian
Games held in honor of the Goddess Athena.
ancient Athens, the prize for the winner in the track event
was 70 amphorae which contained 2.5 tonnes of olive oil.
The winner of the chariot race received 5 tonnes of extra
virgin olive oil.
|In Greece today
there are roughly 150.000.000 olive trees, 2.800 olive oil factories
and 500.000 families are involved with olive tree cultivation
and olive oil production. In some mainly remote areas it constitutes
the only source of income of the inhabitants.
existence of the olive tree in Greece and the Mediterranean
not to mention its daily use and presence in religious rituals
has for thousands of years influenced both the customs and
traditions of the people who lived and live in its shade, creating
with the passing of the time its own special civilization,
the Civilization of the Olive Tree.
The Cultural Tour "Routes
of the Olive Tree" takes place every year by road and
it lasts for about 40 days.
It goes through 22 Mediterranean
countries and totals 16000 km of travel. It is a challenging
trip for the materialisation of which, determination, boldness
and endless love for the olive are needed.
olive tree says to its master:
"Care for me and I will
Water me and I will make you rich"
Olive Oil production in Greece
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