The olive tree story

One of the reasons I like the ancient Greeks is because they were born story tellers.They had a story for everything: stars,trees,birds,animals,thunders, name anything and they had a tale to tell of how it came to be. So here is the myth about the most important of trees.

In mythical times, the story goes, when the city of Athens was first founded,two gods vied for the honor of becoming the new city's patrons.( It was more like which one would get all the nice sacrifices and ceremonies, but who am I to criticise a god?)
Athena was the one and her uncle Poseidon the other. Both wanted the new city as their own ,so up in Acropolis they held a contest of gifts.Poseidon-who was not only god of the oceans,but of horses and earthquakes too- offered to the city a spring of fresh water and the most beautiful war horse anyone has ever seen.
Athena struck the rock with her spear and an olive tree grew.

 One version of the story says that Cecrops,the mythical first King of Athens-a creature half man half snake-chose the olive tree, so the city took the name Athens. Poseidon was-understandably-very upset. He cursed the city never to have enough fresh water and so it came to be.

Another version of the myth states that there was a voting. All men-impressed by the war horse-voted for Poseidon. All women for Athena. Athena won by only 1 vote. And men-being lousy losers...just kidding-removed the voting rights of the women of Athens...
It took us centuries to get them back ;)

Olive trees in wall painting from Knossos palace,Crete.
Olive trees are a blessing for the Mediterranean region since history began. They grow in the wild, "agrelia" we call the wild ones,which can survive the harshest conditions. People learned to care and improve the wild ones to make the most of the goddess's gift:
Olive oil for cooking, for lighting their lamps, for cosmetics and medicines, for offerings to the Gods. 
Plus tasty olives to eat and wonderful slow burning wood for their fires. Victors in the Olympics were happy to be awarded an olive branch wreath and some tonnes of oil.

Study of olive tree by Claude Monet.
Sailors and fishermen still offer Saint Nicolas -the "heir" of Poseidon as ruler of the waves-a few drops of olive oil to keep the seas calm.
Aunties and grandmothers and mothers all over Greece cast a benevolent spell to disperse the "evil eye", by dissolving olive oil in a glass of water and praying. 
( My husband's aunt Vaso is an expert :)) 
 And to .... emmmm....honor one of the main causes of Greece's current dire economic state, bribing here is referred to as "ladoma" which means "to oil someone"!! Why? Because up to the '50s politicians and public servants were bribed by poor farmers with olive oil.Maybe that's why Greek politicians are so extremely healthy *sigh*. 
Science discovered recently what the Med knew already: When it comes to heart and cardiovascular protection there is nothing better than olive oil. It rules!!No question about it :)

Van Gogh's Olive trees with yellow sky.
Olives can't be eaten as they are gathered from the tree. They are unbelievably bitter. So, they are gently cut,not deeply, with a small knife and then put into water for 10 days.
Every day, the water is changed with fresh ,until all the bitterness is gone.
Then they are left for a day in very salted water,then for 3 hours into vinegar. Keep a little vinegar,add some olive oil,put them in vases and voila!:)
The former is the easiest method,the one I will use in November for my potted tree's production.

PS. I read in a site taht olive trees are now grown in California!Yes!!


  1. Such a nice story. In Montenegro people have saying "You can always return to yours mother and olive", representing how much that tree is forgiving when it comes to cultivation.

    As far as medical properties I can witness that olive oil cured my stomach problems. Back in 1998. whenever I eat something I felt I would trow up, so friends mother cooked me an remedy that contained virgin olive oil and fresh kantarion flowers. I was taking one tablespoon of that brown oil every day for two months and never again had such problems.

    Another thing I want to point out here is something I spoke to you about before. Olive trees in Montenegro are much different from what I have seen in Greece. All trees in Montenegro have some menu holes - so it looks like that tree has some kind of illness or is about to die. Here is an picture of that olive type in Bosnia - picture is black and white so the contrast is better.


    While this region of Balkans has only that one spieces of olives in Greece they have plenty! There are so menu different kind of oil you would not believe, from golden yellow to dark grass green in color. They have an very nice meal [[actually that one I liked the most in Greece, after some great musaka in restaurant called Dafni held by an uber cook - Kostas]], they put a little oil and a bit of salt on the bread and thats it. When I think of it now, I will have that right now before I go to bed.

    Paps I was around but unable to make a comment due blog commentary error "bx-xxxx" I was getting - I checked it out and it seems to be an unsolved error of all blogs that comes and go for all blogs since 2009. I personally have spoke with Mary and sent a message to Igor but they probably had same issue when they tried to comment. Glad that this error has gone now.

  2. What an interesting post about olive trees! I enjoyed reading about the different myths and it's reminding me of Anne Frank and her delight in all things mythological!

    I had no idea they are bitter off the tree and must be soaked for so long to remove the icky flavor. Whenever I find out something like this about food or a medicinal use that's not obvious, I always wonder, "How the heck did they ever figure that out?!"

    I must admit that I am ignorant and didn't know that Greece is going through a difficult time right now. Of course, this makes sense, since it seems that most of the world is currently suffering from this recession. In the United States, our lack of jobs is starting to slow down and hopefully things will begin to get better. What is the situation with Greece?

  3. Oh, btw, the painting by Monet isn't coming up on your blog but I found another page that had it because I wanted to see Monet's impression of an olive tree!


  4. The picture was visible when my husband checked, but to be certain I changed the picture painting,thanks Janet :)
    I will post about the Greek crisis soon...

    Glad the error is fixed ,Mio.I saw the picture of the Montenegro olive tree. I posted a picture of the oldest one :)

  5. Olive trees are the symbol of the Mediterranean! They are deeply rooted in our culture and Being! I feel I carry an olive tree on my back, forever! Wonderful post Despoina! Thank you!

  6. Forever and ever ,my darling!
    Thanks for droping by :]

  7. tnx this really helped..my sister!