Minoan Crete was the birthplace of the sporting ideal, which was inextricably linked to the cultic, religious rites that usually took place in the sacred olive groves. Such a ritual musical event for the cutting of olive branches will take place in the Ancient Minoan Olive Tree, located in the center of the "sacred grove" of Kavousi and defined by the ancient settlements Acropolis Azoria in the east, edgeways to Kastro in the southeast, Vrontos in the southwest and from the modern settlement of Kavousi, with continuous and uninterrupted habitation since the middle of the Neolithic era. The olive branch cutting ceremony is organized by the Ierapetra Health Runners Association, the Kavoussi Community and the "Ierapetra International Documentary Festival & Awards ", under the supervision of Artistic Director Eleni Vlassi, the Friday, March 24, 2023 at 16.00 noon as part of the Coast match That Coast Race .

The liturgical procession of the priestesses to the sacred olive tree is a representation inspired by the famous preserved miniature fresco, "Dance in the Sacred Grove", discovered in Knossos. The fresco depicts a gathered crowd of mostly women, around the thick trunks of olive trees, with their hands pointing to the sky, in a liturgical celebration in the palace's sacred grove. Some female figures are simple pilgrims and others are priestesses of the religious ceremony, which in all probability took place, for the propitiation of Mother Earth – the Goddess of Fertility. It seems that the Minoans worshiped mainly Goddesses and their culture is described, as a matriarchal organized religion, of an advanced and urbanized palace culture, within a complex social hierarchy.

Studying the frescoes of Knossos, but also other frescoes of the Minoan era, we conclude that the role of the olive branch is ceremonial, as evidenced by the olive wreath on the hem of the "Crocodile Gatherer", in the fresco, found on the cape of Thira. The entire socio-economic, religious, customary, but also artistic reality of the Minoan civilization was created around the sacred olive tree and echoes the beliefs of the ancient plant worship. The olive branches symbolize eternity, rebirth, the hope of Resurrection and are a symbol of worship, reward in competitions and a symbol of purification.

It is certain that in Minoan Crete, an ancient deity of nature and vegetation, mountains, hunting, the sea, animals and plants was worshipped.
Her worship was combined with dances, religious events and competitions. In all probability the dance was an important sacrificial act, performed for the invocation of the great deity, who is Nature herself, the Great Mother, the Great Goddess and is attributed the status of the Goddess of Sports and Dance, with unlimited powers, to man, on earth, in the sky and in the sea.

In Minoan art, nature is praised and glorified. On the inner walls of the palaces, the natural environment is depicted, surrounded by religious symbolism, while in most of the Minoan religious ceremonies, in the sacred groves and sanctuaries of the summits, the olive takes the lead. Minos and his successors were the first protectors of the sacred olive tree, which was the "greatest good" and had a decisive role in the rapid development of the Minoan civilization, ensuring the economic dominance of Crete, in the Aegean and Mediterranean world.

For the Minoan goldsmiths , the olive was a favorite motif, such as the dazzling belt with olive branches, discovered in the village of Mochlos. There are thousands of objects from the Minoan culture with representations of olive trees, branches or leaves, which came to light in archaeological excavations, as separate objects of "tree worship".

From ancient times until today, the olive tree is a sacred tree, blessed by the gods, for this reason athletes were crowned with an " olive " wreath, believing that this way they were passing on its divine properties. Chickens from the Ancient Minoan Elia of Kavousiou will also crown the athletes of the " Coast " Race that Coast Race ", on Sunday March 26, 2023, in Ierapetra. Around this century-old tree of Azoria, which was a place of worship, the Volunteer Dance Group of the Festival, "The Myth of Ariadne" and the volunteer group " Media " of the Lasithi High School of Music, will perform, on Friday, March 24, 2023 at 16.00 at noon , the Minoan representation, reconstructing in essence, the fresco of Knossos, which 5,000 years ago depicted what we will see live, women dressed richly, with jewels, stepping on the sacred paths, spinning around the sacred olive and dancing with the hands uplifted a common sacrificial act, performed for the invocation of the deity. The motion of invocation is usually the raised hands. The Deity, or Priestess who impersonates her, appears similarly richly dressed, with one hand on her head and the other down. On her head she wears a high pilou or tiara adorned with a snake. The "surface" of this deity somehow, artificial or imagined, produced some blinding glare, so that the worshipers, to shield themselves from the light, brought their hand to their foreheads. Usually, in the procession, there are accompanying Priests and musicians, associated with worship.

The "Olive Roads" (the roads of the olive tree) lead us to a conclusion that from the Minoan era until today, the olive tree is deified, acquires sanctity, becomes a symbol of Peace, Victory and Honor with a Universal character.

It is our duty to preserve and pass on to the next generations, the culture of the Minoan civilization, which is considered the first, brilliant and sophisticated civilization of the prehistoric Aegean, the Mediterranean sea and the whole of Europe.

"It is very important in this transitional time we live in, to know what our roots are, where we come from, who we are and where we are going."

                                                                                                         Eleni Vlassi