At Lucini Italia, we’re proud to continue the traditions of Italian cuisine by crafting artisan Italian vinegars, extra virgin olive oils, and a variety of other gourmet Italian ingredients. But beyond spreading the flavors and foods of Italy, we’re proud to be a part of continuing Italian cultural heritage, as well. The olive tree has long been synonymous with the sprawling landscapes of old-world Italy and the greater Mediterranean, and the olive has been an important symbol since the time of the ancient Greeks. So to help celebrate this marvelous plant, we want to dive into all the things that olives can symbolize.
The Olive Branch: a Symbol of Pace (Peace)
Perhaps the most well-known symbolic connotation for the olive is peace. The olive tree, or more specifically an olive branch, is a symbol of peace and friendship dating back to ancient Greek mythology. Myth tells us that Zeus held a contest between Poseidon and Athena for control over Athens, asking both to make an offering. Poseidon smashed his trident against a rock, producing a spring, while Athena called forth an olive tree with soft, silver-green leaves and an abundance of fruit. Zeus declared Athena the winner, and the olive tree has been an important Greek mythological symbol ever since.
The olive branch reappears as a symbol of peace several more times in Greco-Roman mythology. The Roman poet Virgil uses the olive branch as a signifier of peace in the Aeneid, and Roman envoys used olive branches as tokens of peace during the Pax Romana. Furthermore, while Mars was the Roman god of war, he was also known as Mars Pacifer, or Mars the bringer of peace. Some Roman coins depicted Mars Pacifer as holding an olive branch, demonstrating its symbolic connotations of peace.
This symbolism continues on to the modern day. The Great Seal of the United States features America’s national bird, the bald eagle, holding a clutch of arrows in one talon, symbolizing war, and an olive branch in the other, symbolizing peace. The branch appears on the flag of Cyprus as a peace symbol as well, and the peace connotation also exists in many Arab folk traditions.
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The olive tree and olive branch have been historic symbols of peace and goodwill for thousands of years, and today, we can all enjoy the real-life incarnation of this important symbolic plant in the form of traditional Italian ingredients like extra virgin olive oil. If you’d like to bring a little bit of peace – and a lot of bold flavor – into your kitchen, Lucini extra virgin olive oil is the perfect way to do it. Browse our online shop or find a store near you to bring authentic Lucini olive oil and other gourmet Italian ingredients straight into your home today!