This is how Strabo described the island of Cyprus,
Olive trees were first appeared in Cyprus during the Neolithic era, but according to archaeological references, were not intensively cultivated until the late Bronze Age.
Throughout the centuries, in ancient Cyprus and the whole of the Mediterranean area, the sacred olive tree and its blessed fruit played an important role in every aspect of life, daily or public. Ancient Romans used to craft jewellery from olive branches to honor the distinguished citizens. In Egypt, it was believed that goddess Isis possessed the know-how for the olive tree cultivation. In Islam, the Quran mentions the olive tree numerous times, as it symbolized the Universal Man and the Prophet. Minoan murals were found depicting olive groves. In Laconia, a region in Peloponnese, Greece, a number of golden drinking cups found in a Mycenaean era’s tomb, had engravings of olive trees. In Portugal, evil spirits could be banished using an olive branch. Artists, like the legendary painter Vincent van Gogh were fascinated by the ever changing color of the olive tree, while numerous poets from all around the world, praised its holiness…
It is a plant which should be treated with reverence as it holds many spiritual gifts. It is a symbol of wisdom and friendship, cleansing and healing, victory and richness and, above all, a sign of reconciliation and peace. ‘Kotinos’ in Greek, was the crown of olive branches given to athletes during the Olympic Games and the phrase “to offer someone an olive branch”, always meant “to make peace with someone”.
The “liquid gold”, the olive oil, according to Homer, is through time the most precious superfood. It was “the great healer” according to ancient Greek physician Hippocrates and it was used in the production of both medicines and cosmetics. It was a great asset for trade, used as currency and fuel for houselighting.
In ancient Greece, it was used as an offering to altars and sepulchral stones. Athletes used to rub it on their naked bodies, before and after the competition, to emphasize their physical beauty and to call upon the favor of luck, a custom that has survived through the time.
From being used during pagan rituals, the sacred olive oil becomes eventually one of the most important symbols in Christianity, as it is essential for the administration of three of the seven sacraments, the christening, the anointing and the extreme unction. The myrrh, known millennia back for its healing properties, represents now the many and various charismas of the Holy Spirit.
As a religious commodity, signifies the divine mercy, the rebirth, the eternal joy and love, and the purification. It becomes a holy amulet for congregants to get over hard times.
“Age old olive trees, hollow contorted trunks…”, a description given by the Greek poet Yiannis Ritsos to the centuries-old trees, which like living works of Art with their interesting and intricate growth pattern, never lack in fruit, so for us all to ever taste their blessed oil.