The olive tree originates from the eastern Mediterranean, and interestingly, the oldest traces of olive pollen date back to the 12th millennium BC in the North Sahara. The olive tree is highly resilient, and its trunk is typically of irregular shape. The oldest olive tree in the world, over 2200 years old, is located in Bar, Montenegro, and its diameter measures around 10 meters.
Oljka in mythology
The olive tree is indeed a fascinating tree, as demonstrated by numerous myths and legends. One of the legends tells the story of a time long ago when trees gathered to choose their king. The trees decided on the olive tree, but the olive tree declined the honor. It told them that its mission was too important for humanity to waste time on ruling. The origin of the city of Athens is also connected to the olive tree. Another myth claims that the sea god Poseidon and the goddess of wisdom Athena competed for the title of the king of Athens. Athena is said to have won because she gifted the people with the olive tree. In ancient times, people used to weave wreaths from the evergreen leaves of the olive tree and present them to the winners of the Olympic Games. The most significant and prestigious prize at the Olympic Games was an amphora filled with olive oil. In ancient Greece, the olive tree was so highly esteemed that cutting down an olive tree was considered the gravest of crimes alongside murder.
Indeed, the olive tree is considered a blessed tree. Christians around the world celebrate Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) in memory of Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem, where people welcomed Him with palm branches. In Istria, this Sunday is known as Olive Sunday or Oljčna nedelja.
Following an ancient Christian tradition, on this day, people bring olive branches to churches for blessings, and some still arrange them in the shape of palm branches. The blessed olive branches are then used for protection in homes, barns, and fields. Olive branches are considered a symbol of peace, reflecting their significance in this tradition.
Since ancient times, the fruits of the olive tree have been used to produce olive oil and serve as both food and medicinal oil. Olive growing has also become a traditional agricultural activity in the Slovenian Primorska region, and Slovenian olive oil has been establishing its place among the world's finest oils year after year. It is worth mentioning that Slovenian Istrian olive oil was the first agricultural product to receive the European quality label.
According to official data, since 2007, olive growers have been able to produce Extra Virgin Olive Oil of Slovenian Istria (EDOOSI ZOP) under prescribed conditions with a protected designation of origin. This olive oil represents approximately 10 percent of the total Slovenian production.