A dove carrying an olive branch has long been one of the historical symbols of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Historically, doves have always been a symbol of peace and the combination of a dove with an olive branch represents the close ties between the Jewish people and the Mediterranean olive tree.
Olive trees and its oil have always played an important role in Israel’s history and this combination of the dove and olive branch symbolizes the link between the new young state and the ancient two thousand year-old Israel. In fact, olive presses and olive oil constitute an entire culture that began in ancient biblical times when olive trees were loved and revered as shown by the quote from Deuteronomy Chapter 8:7 where Israel is referred to as “A land of olives, oil and honey.” Olive pits have been found dating back 6,000 years and dozens of ancient olive presses show just how important a role the olive played and how many groves there must have been.
Olive oil has also played an important role in religious rituals being used to anoint priests and kings for libations and burials. In fact, during biblical times, the entire season of the olive harvest signified a time of festivities. Today olive festivals honor this tradition and the olive harvest is celebrated in the fall with many activities. A unique and fun excursion for tourists is to visit the olive groves and harvest olives together with the farmers and then watch the olives as they are pressed.
Other activities surrounding the olive harvest are special gourmet meals prepared by restaurants featuring olives and olive oil; music events; nature walks; and workshops.
Olive trees are still considered sacred today in modern Israel and the production of olive oil is a symbol of abundance and health. Olive oil remains one of Israel’s most important agricultural products and continues to be used as a source of food, medicinal treatments and cosmetics, and cleaning and hygiene agents.
Plan to visit Israel during the harvest season and join in on lots of fun, interesting and colorful events surrounding the Olive harvest. Contact Israel Tour Connection to plan your trip to Israel.