If your name is Olivia

If your name is Olivia, it is from the Greek word elaia meaning “olive,” or the French word olivia meaning “olive tree.” The olive is the most important classical fruit tree of the Mediterrean basin. A hardy tree, it provided a staple diet and valuable oil used for cooking, light, and anointing. Due to is long life, the olive tree was a central agricultural component of many ancient cultures and was seen as a gift from the gods. The Encyclopedia Judaica states: “There are trees in Israel estimated to be 1,000 years old that still produce fruit. In old age the tree becomes hollow but the trunk continues to grow thicker, at times achieving a circumference of 20 feet….It is an evergreen, and the righteous who take refuge in the protection of God are compared to it.” Historically the olive tree was a symbol of peace, and olive wreathes were awarded to victors of Olympic games, and were worn by brides in ancient Greek culture. In the Bible, olive branches were used regularly to signal the end of a conflict or the approval of a higher power. God sent Noah a dove with an olive branch in its mouth to alert him to the end of the great flood. Still today, to “extend an olive branch” is to make an attempt to end conflict. The flag of the United Nations depicts the world with two olive branches on either side, symbolizing its goal of world peace. William Shakespeare stated in Henry IV, Part II: “Peace puts forth her olive everywhere.” Olive oil was an important part of Jewish culture because of its many uses, being considered the “king of trees.” Regarding the menorah in the Tabernacle, God told Moses in Leviticus 24:2: “Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to make the lamps burn continually.” Olive oil was a symbol of honor, joy, and favor, and was used to anoint the head and body.  Hosea 14:6 says: “Your branches will spread with the beauty of an olive tree.” So extend your branches, your fruit, your oil, Olivia, and anoint peace to those around you. (Pass this on to an Olivia you know.)

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