There are many legends about the olive tree that have no number.

The first written mentions of olive were found in ancient Egyptian texts, it was depicted on vases, amphorae, frescoes.

Vessels for storing olive oil found on the island of Crete date back to the third and second millennia BC. But still, scientists do not have a single opinion about the homeland and the origin of the olive.

(Fra Angelico. Judas Betrayal. Fresco in the Dominican Monastery of St. Mark in Florence)

(The dispute between Athena and Poseidon. Ancient Roman gem)

1954 airmail stamp with olive tree in the Judean mountains)

Oliva is a long-lived among fruit crops, the age of some trees exceeds 2 thousand years.

There are more than five hundred of its cultivars, some of which are used for preserving stems and fruits, others, for example, jasmine (do not confuse it with shrub mock-up (Philadelphus), which in Russia is often incorrectly called jasmine) – for the production of oil and perfume.

In ancient Greek myths, we can read that the origin of the olive tree is connected with the name of the goddess Athena, who presented the olive tree as a gift to people who began to use it not only as food, but also took refuge in the shade from the sun, harvested firewood from it and used olive oil for medicinal purposes. Fruits are rich in proteins, pectins, sugars, vitamins: B, C, E, P, contain salts of potassium, phosphorus, iron and many other useful elements. In ancient Greece, olive was simply irreplaceable. People invented many ways to prepare olive fruits: they were pickled with vinegar and salt or canned with honey and wine must. 

(photo Gastronomy of Ancient Greece)

Three varieties of oil were squeezed from the olives: first-class for cooking; second-class oil, mixed with incense substances, was used for aointment; and the third grade oil was used to light houses, as it is not suitable for food.

Oliva symbolized strength, beauty, health, wisdom, victory: the Greeks wore olive wreaths woven in sacred groves on the athletes who won the Olympic Games. Olive oil was also considered an object of high importance and was offered as a prize to winners in competitions. It was a sacred offering. During weddings, brides pinned olive leaves to dresses, emphasizing their innocence and chastity.

photo from the site of the country-reader.rf)

photo from ski.ru)

In the Christian religion, the olive branch is associated with the biblical legend of the Great Flood and Noah’s Ark. It says that after the flood, Noah released a dove in search of land, and he returned with an olive branch.

(Author: anonimous master – basilica san marco, venice, Public Domain)

In iconography, the olive branch expresses joy and is a symbol of the Annunciation. She is mentioned in the story of the Virgin Mary: an angel brought the olive branch to her, announcing that she would give the Savior to the world.

Simone Martini. “Triptych of the Annunciation. Virgin Mary. Fragment.”)

In Europe, the olive is a symbol of victory and peace, fertility and abundance, purity and chastity, and it is also an emblem of immortality.

In Japan, she represents friendship and success. In China – composure and equanimity.

photo from ru.rti.org.tw)

Oliva is a sacred tree among Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Now some readers will ask, but what is the difference between olives and olives? Nothing. Olives and olives are the fruits of the same olive tree – European olives.

There are livestock of varying degrees of maturity :

The first is green olives. They are dense and contain less oil than black olives. Long stored.

The second is olives that change color (red-brown). Their fruits are much softer than green.

The third stage is olives of natural black maturity. They blacken on a tree and then they are picked by hand before the cold. They are the most expensive.

Fresh olives are not sold in stores because they are very bitter and cannot be eaten without special processing. Previously, they were soaked in salt water, and they wandered there for up to 12 months. Now alkali is added to the brine, so olives are prepared in just a few days

Green olives can. But their color depends on the technology used. So, black canned olives (called olives in Russia), as well as green olives, are collected unripe. And then, after special processing, their color turns black.

The Legend of the Olive Tree

Once upon a time, when the Gods lived next to people, on the top of Mount Olympus, where the peaks are forever covered with gray hairs of snow, there was the kingdom of Zeus.

Gods of Olympus. Antonio Verrio)

He very much loved turning into a mischievous rich young man and going down in this guise to people. Everyone was glad for the young handsome man, and did not even realize that they were facing Zeus. He was a welcome guest and was included in almost all houses. He was always tasty fed, watered, invited for the night, laying soft feather-beds.

Zeus. Rubens.)

Zeus began to boast among the Gods, what hospitable people live, how they greet him cordially, as they love. Upon hearing this, the wife of Zeus, the wise Hera, laughed at him. “Of course! – she exclaimed, – everyone will be happy with the young, beautiful and rich! And you try to turn to the beggar’s old man, and you’ll find out who needs you! ”

Zeus and Hera. Rubens.)

Zeus then thought over the words of his wife. And he decided to turn to an old man, a patient and a beggar. He went down from Olympus to the people and went again to familiar houses. Those who turned out to be so kind, courteous and attentive to him yesterday turned out to be evil. Some simply slammed the door, seeing a wretched old man in rags, and who threw a stone after him.

Then Zeus realized how duplicitous people are. He was angry in earnest. “Now I’ll return to Olympus, I’ll burn everything with lightning, I will find terrible thunders on them,” he decided. But then he noticed a shack. On its threshold sat two old men, a husband and a wife. With a smile, they called out to Zeus, greeted and invited to the house. They sat at the table. They treated the guest to everything that they had – spring water, and a slice of bread. They offered their bed to rest, as she was only one.

And immediately relieved Zeus from the soul. He turned into his divine guise. And he says to the old people: “Ask for what you want!” I will fulfill your every desire. Wealth, youth, children? ”

“No, thank you, Zeus is omnipotent,” the old man and the old woman answer him. “We lived a life without wealth, but that did not bother us. We really wanted the children, but it didn’t work out. And now it’s worthless for us to have kids, our strength is not enough to grow them. We had youth, and very happy because fate brought us together. We would only wish … never to part, even after death. ”

When the time came for the old men to die, Zeus fulfilled his promise. They fell asleep in the arms of the strong and Zeus turned them into an olive tree. The trunk is bound in knots as if two people are standing in each other’s arms. The crown of the tree is strewn with small olives – the children of the tree and give these fruits olive oil – the wealth of the tree.