Two thousand years ago the most common tree on the Galilean, Jerusalem and Bethlehem landscape was the olive tree. Its fruit was used to produce oil for light, healing, and anointing. The Mount of Olives was covered with olive trees.
“When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began to joyfully praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.”
The Franciscans in the 16th century taught the people in Bethlehem how to carve religious objects from the olive wood which was pruned to keep the trees healthy. Today, popular holy land items range from olive wood camels to olive wood covered Bibles to 11-piece nativity scenes.