Olive trees are plentiful in Cyprus. They are harvested in September and are used in cooking and for making olive oil. They are sold in markets in large jars and are a natural part of the Cypriot cuisine. But the olive tree also has a deeper meaning for the Cypriots. It is considered as sacred and the leaves of the tree are said to protect from evil. Burning olive branches, according to tradition, is believed that the smoke will protect the home and family. The tradition of burning the branches is born out of an old legend that takes place during the time of Jesus. According to the story Jesus hid one day up in the trees to escape his enemies.
After the enemies left the olive tree and the surrounding area, Jesus went down on his knees and prayed the following: “You who olive trees to live for over 100 years after you have been planted, you should give fruits and oil and make your owners rich.”
The olive tree asked, “What if my owners cut down and burn me?”
Jesus answered: “The smoke that comes from the leaves as well as your bark will protect you from envy and malice.”