This article is also available in: Italiano
Considered by many as the Mediterranean plant par excellence, the olive tree has its history in the culture of this sea, where it has always meant peace and hope for peoples.
Always lord of the Mediterranean
The olive tree has been cultivated throughout the Mediterranean for about 7000 years, making it one of the most deeply rooted plants in the history of these peoples and cultures. Its origins are in fact to be found right between the shores of this sea where, starting from Syria and Lebanon, it spread everywhere thanks to frequent trade. The Jews were the first people to celebrate their virtues, fully expressed with the Hannukah ceremony, in which olive oil plays a central role. The Greeks then brought the olive tree all over the sea, transforming it into a symbol of cohesion among the peoples, all children of the same fruit.
It is also very interesting how this meaning then passed into Christianity, especially as regards “Palm Sunday”. This event celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, praised by the faithful with palm branches, a symbol of triumph in the classical world. In some countries, including Italy, the latter have however been replaced with olive branches, giving the whole a very different sense, almost as a symbol of a “Lord of peace” rather than a classic “Lord”. The olives are then also present in the Quran, where they are explicitly mentioned as a gift of Allah for creation.
One of the reasons why this plant is so appreciated, as well as for the incredible properties of its fruits, is that of its immense longevity. In fact, there are countless specimens over 500 years old, and in some cases it even reaches over 1000 years of age, all continuing to be constantly productive. The city of Bshaale, in Lebanon, claims to have a specimen of as many as 4000 years old, but it is estimated that many Palestinian olive trees reach 2000/3000 years of age.
Olive oil, the best known and most appreciated product of this plant, has been used for centuries in the kitchens of all Mediterranean countries, being appreciated for its unique taste and flavor, as well as for its incredible antioxidant properties and its many uses. Nablus soap, in particular, is made with pure first pressing oil, maximizing its moisturizing power. Over the centuries, each country has developed its own way of growing this plant, combining its taste with those of the past and consolidating the olive tree more and more in the history of this sea.
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