Olive Oil: The Bittersweet Taste of Lebanon

Spirituality appears to flow through the branches of the olive tree. It has been used as a religious symbol of peace, life, fertility, and renewal. In ancient Greece, courageous soldiers were honored with a crown made of olive twigs. The first Olympic torch was a burning olive branch. Romans used this branch as a symbol of peace and the tree was considered so sacred that those found guilty of cutting one down were condemned to death or exile. In the temples of Baalbek, in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, olive oil was offered to the gods at the end of a good harvest to give thanks. Moreover, in 2000, olive groves were planted right up the barbed wire border with Israel, after the latter withdrew from Southern Lebanon, after an 18-year occupation. Liberation, rebirth, renewal, and peace can be symbolized by the olive tree.

Lebanon is renowned for its opulent olive orchards dating back centuries. The northern villages of Amioun and Bshaale are home to some of the oldest olive trees in the world, many of which date back at least 1,500 years. Although the origin of the olive tree is still unidentified, some theories suggest that the olive was first cultivated on the shores of the Mediterranean along the coasts of Lebanon and Palestine, and the Phoenician settlements were the first to domesticate and adapt the wild olive tree to cultivation. As far back as 1600 BC, Phoenicians introduced the olive tree to Greece and then to Italy, France, Spain and finally North Africa…

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Olive Oil – The Bittersweet Taste of Lebanon

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