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Olive Trees. Myths & Stories. - Feast Italy

Olive Trees. Myths & Stories.

That olive trees have been around for thousands of years is common knowledge. During our travels, we discovered many little secret, and we would like to share them with you today.

Greek Mythology, for example, tells us how the first tree was born. Competing to win over the Attica region, Athena and Poseidon were to give the most useful gift to mankind. Poseidon offered the most powerful horse, symbol of war and strength. Athena instead, gave an olive tree whose fruits were to be used as food, unguent and fuel, and were a symbol of prosperity, long life and the end of a nomad life. Mankind chose the Olive Tree, and Athena pleasantly surprised by their choice, rewarded them by adding even more properties to the olives, making it a medicinal plant.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, recommended olive oil to treat wounds, burns, as a skin toner as well as to protect and support the digestive system. 

Aristotle recorded in the Constitutions of Athenians that "anyone who has uprooted or felled an olive tree, either property of the State or private citizens, will be judged in court and, if found guilty, sentenced to death." The life of a man had the same value as the one of an olive tree.

The olive tree is the only sacred plant common in all the monotheistic religions. Prophet Muhammad regarded the olive tree as a sacred plant, instructing his followers to "anoint yourselves with olive oil because it comes from a blessed tree." The dove coming back to Noah after the Great Flood is one of the most popular passage of the Bible, however in the Book of Genesis, God instructed Adam and Eve to look after the tree that produced "oil which would heal man’s wounds and cure all ills”.

Used across the centuries as a condiment, ointment, medicine, in the Medieval time was regarded as a luxury. In their last will, wealthy people used to leave to churches and monastery olive trees, with the promise that the olive oil was to fuel a light to remember the deceased. This practice is referred to as Pro Luminaria, literally "in favour of light". 

There are so many stories surrounding this wonderful tree that we could go on forever. Maybe we'll do a part 2, who knows. Truth is, we are fascinated by this peaceful plant: resilient, fruitful, eternal.

Isn't it something to be inspired by? 

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