OLIVE TREE : A SPIRITUAL CREATION
The tree of friendship - The tree of peace - The tree of fertility
You think that the olive tree was especially made for Greece, so well does it thrive in most regions of the country. It loves the sea and the sun and for this reason coastal areas where it is assured of the climatic conditions it needs and a suitable ecosystem for the tree to grow and bear fruit. It seeks a mild Mediterranean climate on the coast, on the islands and on the mainland.
The olive tree belongs to the species "Olea Europaea" and originated from the area corresponding to modern Syria and Iran. However, the Greeks were first to be involved in the full scale cultivation of the olive. Between the 7th and 3rd centuries B.C., ancient philosophers, physicians and historians undertook its botanical classification and referred to the curative properties of olive oil (Dioscorides, Diocles) and its history (Anaxagoras, Empedocles), while Aristotle elevated olive cultivation to a science.
It was even protected by the legislation of the time. The first Olive Protection Law was introduced by Solon (639-559 B.C.). In one of his statutes he prohibited the cutting-down of more than two trees a year in each olive groove.
In ancients Greece the olive tree was a symbol of prudence, peace, winning and fertility. The winners at the Olympic games received a garland made of wild olive tree. The Acropolis of long, long ago is always depicted with an ancient olive tree growing on it which (according to mythology) the goddess Athena caused to spring up so that she could win the favor of the inhabitants of the city which spread out into the Attica Basin.
The olive and it's oil also held a special position in the Orthodox religion, it was a symbol of love and peace, an essential part of several solemn rites, from the service of baptism to the oil lamps used in churches and the little shrine that is part of every Greek household.
The love and long esteem of the Greek olive-grower for the olive tree is passed on from generation to generation and from family to family. With the birth of a child an olive tree is planted which will grow and develop along with the child. When the child starts school at the age of seven, the olive tree is ready to produce it's fruit. The blessed tree grows up with the family, only it will have a much longer life and will still be around to be tended by next generation, and the one after that, yielding its annual crop of olives in return for the labor and love expended on it.
For the Greek producer, olive growing is not just a job, it
is his whole life.
He remains faithful to the timeless and well-tried traditional methods of cultivation, but at the same time he uses up-to-date methods that give him ultimate control over the quality of the olives.
When the time comes for the olive tree to repay the olive-grower for the toil and care he has devoted to it, one of the most arduous and expensive tasks in the cycle of the tree begins: the picking of the olives. Many hands are needed - but they must be careful hands. Every olive grove has its own peculiarities and special needs
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