The olive branch has been adopted by St. Basil’s as it’s symbol and logo.
In Greek tradition, the olive branch is deeply rooted in symbolic meaning and practical application dating back to ancient times, where winners in the Olympic Games were crowned with an olive wreath.
Olive trees grow abundantly in Greece and the olive and olive oil are associated with this country. Of course, they feature heavily in all Mediterranean dishes and their medicinal properties are widely recognised.
The olive tree is a symbol of peace, prosperity, health, wellness, abundance and food. In the modern world, it has also become a symbol of Greek heritage. For the Greek people, the olive tree is one of the most beloved, sacred trees and its place is firmly rooted in Ancient Greek tradition and mythology.
The Old Testament story of Noah’s Ark has a dove with an olive branch in its mouth returning to the Ark, symbolising peace. Offering an olive branch to someone symbolises wanting to end a conflict and restore peace and friendship.
An Old Testament blessing is “may your children’s children gather around your table like young olive trees”.
In the New Testament, there are many verses referring to the Mount of Olives. It is here where Jesus was betrayed and also the place from where Jesus ascended into Heaven.
In ancient Greece olive oil was used to clean the body. Athletes would cover their bodies in oil, then scrape off the oil, which took with it all the dust and dirt from the competition.
Olive oil was used for healing. In the new testament the “good Samaritan” tended to the wounds of injured man with oil and wine.
Olive oil was used for beauty. Jesus instructs people that they should hide the fact that they are fasting and look radiant by washing their face and putting oil in their hair.
Olive oil was a currency for wealth used in trading. It was and still remains a food and is now known to lower cholesterol and provides the body with much needed nutritional elements.
Finally, the Greek word for “mercy” is derived from the word for “olive oil”. Why? Because it was everything anybody could need. It represented peace, wealth, food, medicine, health, beauty, strength, vigour, prosperity and life. When people look up to the Lord for mercy, they are indeed asking for all these things.
As such, St. Basil’s has adopted the olive branch as its symbol, reflecting all the things we want for those in our care, for our staff, our volunteers, our visitor, our friends and all their loved ones.