5 Facts About Olive Oil and the Olympic Games
It’s the most anticipated event every two years of our lives. The Olympic Games! For years, people have gathered together from around the world to watch our most hardworking and talented athletes to compete in these games. The Games are filled with history and it is exciting to say that olive oil and olive trees stand right along with the history of such an event.
In honor of the five Olympic Rings symbol, here are five facts about olive oil, and olive trees.
1. Blue Ring: A Gift to Winners
The olive tree is the global emblem for the symbol of victory, peace and purity. To the Greeks, they are considered a holy symbol. As part of the ancient Pan-Hellenic Olympics, there was only one winning athlete. This athlete was given a wild olive leaf crown, or wreath. This crown is considered the highest possible award in ancient Greece. An owner of one of these crowns would be guaranteed fame, honor, and respect for the rest of their lives. The last time we saw these crowns they were presented to podium winners in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
2. Black Ring: A Tree’s Rich History in the Olympics
The Vouves tree, also known as the Olympic Tree, is considered to be the oldest olive tree in the world, which is estimated to be 3,000 years old. It has been selected as the symbol of peace during the ceremonies, hence its nickname. Every four years during the ancient Olympic Games, the winner was gifted a crown or wreath from its branches. In 2004, after many years of its absence, it made an appearance in the Athens Olympic Games where the podium winners were crowned with the branches from this very tree. Since then, at every Summer Olympics, a branch from the tree is presented as a gift during the opening ceremonies.
3. Red Ring: Provided Health for the Athletes
The ancient Greeks have a saying that focuses on the necessity to keep your mind and body in shape which they lived by. The benefits and high fats that come with olive oil are ideal to keep an athlete’s mind and body healthy by consuming vast amounts of olive oil. It provided them with energy they need, lowered their cholesterol, contribute to heart health, helped build density in their bones, and recovered their muscles after a hard day of training.
The most interesting fact about using athlete’s olive oil is that they would use it as a natural cosmetic. It would keep their skin smooth and appealing and help elasticize the muscles. Due to the fact that they also trained and competed completely nude, lathering their body in olive oil also protected their skin against the sun.
4. Yellow Ring: Awarded Liquid Gold
Originally, the athletes weren’t competing for chance to win a gold, silver, or bronze metal. They were awarded olive oil! In Ancient Greece, olive oil was considered to be extremely valuable. The winners would receive the finest quality and most expensive olive oil from sacred trees on the rocks of Acropolis. No one, except the winners were allowed to possess this particular olive oil. The tradition continued when olive oil was gifted to the winning athletes at the 1896 and 2004 Olympic Games.
5. Green Ring: Fueled the Olympic Flame
Since we are a few days away to the closing ceremonies of The Games, it is fitting to end with this fact. In Ancient Greece, women were not allowed to participate in The Games. Instead, it was the duty of a priestess to light the Olympic Flame. At the start of The Games, the Greeks would light a flame in a cauldron on an alter of Hera’s temple. They would use a hollow disk, known today as a parabolic mirror, and a little olive oil to capture the sun’s rays.
For a time, when the Olympic Games died out for a few centuries, the Flame was not ignited. It wasn’t until 1928, when the Flame was reintroduced. In 1936, the famous Olympic torch relay was created by Carl Diem, a German History professor and Secretary General of the Organizing Committee of the Games. He introduced the relay as a way to reconnect and bring historical roots to the Modern Olympic Games.
Using the same igniting process that the ancient Greek priestess used, the flame is passed on to the first selected torch bearer. The torch is passed from each selected person to another, crossing countries and continents until it is passed to the final person. This carefully selected final torch bearer is the one that has the honor of lighting the Olympic Flame in the opening ceremony. Today, it is considered a high honor to be selected as a torch bearer.