Olive tree and the Olympic Games

The olive tree since ancient times is an integral symbol of Peace, Victory, Honour and Unity. Also it became a symbol of the Olympic ideal, as an olive branch was the only prize for the Olympic champions but which had more value and importance.

The institution of the Olympic Games began in 776 BC in ancient Olympia in honor of god Zeus, in a time the Greece disrupted by civil wars, sacred truce was in force to enable athletes and pilgrims arrive safely. In the beginning the prize of winners were a sacred apple, but after prophecy from the Oracle of Delphi, the winners had to be crowned with a wreath of “kotinos”, Wild fruitful olive tree.

Olive tree that was used as “kotinos” was called “Kallistefanos” and was in the Sacred Grove. A small boy, whom both parents was alive, cut with gold scissors 17 branches (later 18) as the number of Olympic sports. No one athlete could declared his victory until crowned by “Hellanodikai”, the judges of Olympic Games.

The crowned with the olive branch had special value because there was the theory that the winners that were crowned with it acquired the divine qualities, and exalted at the same level with the gods. Indeed Zeus inside the church represented to crowned with the same wild olive wreath as the mortals winners.

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