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Divine Olive Oil

Stories and Traditions

According to Mythology the first Olive tree was a gift to the city of Athens from the Olympian Goddess Athena. The Goddess Athena and The God Poseidon competed for the name of the ancient city offering gifts to its people. Poseidon offered a spring of salt water and Athena an Olive tree. The Athenian people favored Athena’s gift and named their city after the Goddess.

The cultivation of olive trees and the production of olive oil has been part of our island’s tradition for centuries. Cypriots created a web of myths and traditions, where olive oil has divine and even magical powers to showcase the importance of this valuable product that played such a crucial role in their day-to-day life.

Divine Olive
Olive tree
olive in cyprus
olives

A folklore story

As in many cultures, also in our folklore we have many superstitions and unfounded fears and beliefs. If you feel exhausted, have headaches, dizziness or you experience mental and physical fatigue, then you are matiasmenos (an envious eye was cast upon). You need an expert to perform the xematiasma (to release you from the consequences of the envious eye). For the xematiasma to be successful it must be performed free of charge and the matiasmenos must not say “thank you”.

The Expert fills a small cup with water and a small plate with olive oil and starts the xematiasma with a prayer “in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” followed by the name of the matiasmenos. The Expert then makes the sign of the cross 3 times over the water and every time she prays “Jesus Christ the Almighty who conquers all” and then pours 3 oil drops into the cup of water. If the 3 drops float separately in the cup, then it was a false alarm: the person is not matiasmenos and must seek the cause of his symptoms elsewhere. However, if the three oil drops unit and float as a single drop in the cup then the person is indeed matiasmenos. The Expert proceeds then to repeat 3 times a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. After the prayers are said and done the matiasmenos will feel much better and the effects of the envious eyes will cease to affect him.

The Experience

October marks the beginning of the Ladia, that is the olive harvest, which lasts until March. Participate in harvesting of the olives and the olive oil extract process. Sit under an ancient olive tree, relax and imagine it’s centuries-old stories. Eat a slice of bread sprinkled with fresh olive oil, salt and oregano and feel its balmy taste. Visit ancient and modern olive oil presses and experience the evolution of the olive oil production through the centuries.

Traditional Olive Presses

Along the Heartland villages, you will come across a number of restored traditional olive presses, which were built usually at  church squares or in monasteries. These traditional presses were typically made of stone or wood and used a combination of pressing and grinding to extract the oil from olives. Usually, a heavy mill stone is fitted in a stone basin and is turned to crush the olives. The poult of the crushed olives is then  placed in special woven baskets, zembilia, and is  placed under heavy stones or in a press to extract every drop of the precious olive oil.

Visiting one of these old olive presses can be a fascinating way to learn about the island’s heritage and traditional methods of olive oil production:

  • Lythrodontas Olive Press
  • Palaichori Olive Press
  • Choirokoitia Olive Press
  • Tochni Olive Press
  • Kalavasos Olive Press
  • Prastio Olive Press
Cypriot Olive oil

Cypriot extra virgin olive oil has a distinctive, fruity aroma and robust flavour, both of which are attributed to the variety of the Cypriot olive tree and the soil conditions. The fruity profile combines the fragrant scents of green tomatoes, artichokes and, in some cases, freshly-cut grass or bitter almonds. On the palate, the taste is slightly bitter with a moderate pungency in the throat and a pleasant aftertaste without any greasy mouthfeel. These desirable characteristics are considered positive indicators of quality and distinction.

Olive Oil and Religion

In the Greek Orthodox religious practice, olive oil symbolizes God’s mercy, serenity and peace. It is a sacred symbol of the cycle of life, it is used in all important moments and rituals, birth, baptism, marriage and death. Olive oil is also used in oil lamps that illuminate our churches, since it produces no soot, which is harmful for the icons and the wall paintings. The faithful consider the oil from these oil lamps as a talisman and help for every difficult moment.

In Cyprus, Palm Sunday is better known as Olive Sunday because in local tradition it has been associated with the olive tree. According to custom, women cut olive branches which they leave in the church for 40 days to be sanctified. The consecrated olive leaves are burned to “smoke” the house and other places, as well as family members, throughout the year as a protection against evil spirits.

Symbolisms and superstitions

The olive branch also symbolizes peace. In the Old Testament, a pigeon brought Noah an olive branch that symbolized the end of the Flood and the return of normality. The United Nations Organization logo depicts two olive branches enveloping the world. Also, the flag of the Republic of Cyprus depicts the shape of the island in a yellow-copper color which is enveloped by two olive branches symbolizing our island’s effort for peace and prosperity.

Ancient olive trees and groves

Ancient trees, which managed to survive throughout the centuries are considered “Monuments of Nature”. Our Forestry Department has identified 115 individual trees and 27 tree groves such monuments. Some of the most important ancient olive trees and groves are:

  • 800 years old olive tree in Kyperounta village. It is 5m tall and a perimeter of 8.10m
  • 800 years old olive tree in Lefkara village. It is 4m tall and a perimeter of 7.20m
  • 700 years old olive tree in Agglisides village. It is 6m tall and a perimeter of 10.35m
  • 700 years old olive tree in Avdimou village. It is 5m tall and a perimeter of 8.70m
  • 28 olive trees near Germasogeia village
  • 43 olive trees near Anogyra village
  • and 18 olive trees near Pano Lefkara village.

Leg 1

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Links to businesses offering the experience

Tel: 22542773, 96660919

(Deftera) Agni’s Olive Mill

Tel: 22621315, 22623308

(Klirou) Eleotrivio Pyrinas Klirou

Tel: 99478679, 99426680

(Akaki) A. Kyprianou Olive Mill

Tel: 22822239, 99625685

(Pera Orinis) A&S Olive Mill Pera Orinis

Tel: 22622781, 99651676

Note: The business offering the experience, operate during the “Ladia” period (the olive harvest) from October to March.

More to experience
milky way - andros fani
(Dali) Antros & Fani Dimitriadi

Tel: +357 22521103

milky way business
(Lythrodontas) Salomi traditional bakery

Tel: +357 99787118

Taste our local flavours

Labeled with “Taste Cyprus” restaurants/taverns nearby:
Pano Lefkara

Accommodation Nearby

LEG 2

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Links to businesses offering the experience

Note: The business offering the experience, operate during the “Ladia” period (the olive harvest) from October to March.

More to experience

Tel: +357 99790979 or 96894236

bread for the soul - basket making
(Choirokoitia) Mr Petros Nicolaou Traditional Basket Workshop

Tel: +357 99205833

Taste our local flavours

Labeled with “Taste Cyprus” restaurants/taverns nearby:
Agglisides
Tersefanou
Agios Theodoros
Agios Theodoros

Accommodation Nearby

LEG 3

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Links to businesses offering the experience

Tel: +357 99565768, +357 99525093

(Erimi) Pettemerides Olive Mill

Tel: +357 25932233, +357 99488338

Note: The business offering the experience, operate during the “Ladia” period (the olive harvest) from October to March.

More to experience
milky way route - anourkatikon
(Anoyira) family run farm -The Anoyrkatikon

Tel: +357 9433287, +357 99633286

milkyway - west niki
(Prastio) Niki Onoufriou

Tel: +357 25 221560, +357 99 633127

milky way route - christina constantinou
(Prastio) Christina Constantinou “To Praskitiko”

Tel: +357 99 662730

milky way route - salatas
(Pachna) Salatas Farm

Tel: +357 25 942023, +357 99 679957

milkway west route stefani
(Pachna) Giannakis Stefani workshop

Tel: +357 99604882, +357 99 411215

Taste our local flavours

Labeled with “Taste Cyprus” restaurants/taverns nearby:

Accommodation Nearby

LEG 4

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Links to businesses offering the experience

Tel: +357 99683887, +357 97605200

(Drouseia) Koupparis Olive Mill

Tel: +357 99450147

(Kritou Marotou) Kritou Marotou Olive Mill

Tel: +357 95124860

(Timi) Andreas Kanaris Olive Mill

Tel: +357 26422855, +357 99473167

Note: The business offering the experience, operate during the “Ladia” period (the olive harvest) from October to March.

More to experience
milky way route - droushia
(Drouseia) Dairy workshops “Drouseia”

Tel: +357 99257560

Taste our local flavours

Labeled with “Taste Cyprus” restaurants/taverns nearby:

Statos – Agios Fotios

Amargeti

Accommodation Nearby

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