The olive tree is the heart and soul of Palestine. Every year during the olive harvest, farmers prune their trees, which means we have mountains of pruned wood. These prunings are used by the olive wood artisans of Bethlehem to create Christmas nativities and ornaments, kitchen items, and more.
Historically, the craft of carving olive wood started in Bethlehem when Palestine was under the Byzantine Rule, following the construction of the Church of Nativity in the 4th century. Greek Orthodox monks taught the locals how to carve wood and make crafts; the input of Italian and Franciscan artisans making pilgrimages also helped local artisans develop their craft. This tradition continues through today, with olive wood carving leading as the industry of Bethlehem, Beit Sahour and Beit Jala.
Popular crafts made from olive wood include boxes, crosses, holy family scenes, cups, kitchen utensils, photo frames, flower vases, rosary beads, and wall decorations.
Handmade in Palestine features kitchen utensils made of olive wood. These spatulas and spoons are wonderful for cooks and come in a variety of shapes for different cooking needs.
We also feature ceramic soap dishes made by two women from Nisf Jbeil as well as kitchen aprons from El Bier Arts & Seeds. Aprons are made from locally produced fabric, sewn by a tailor in Hebron, and printed in Dheishah Refugee Camp. They make reuseable bags and aprons that feature bilady or heirloom plants as well as traditional Palestinian dishes.
All purchases from Handmade in Palestine sustain livelihoods of fair trade artisans and 100% of the profit is donated to the not for profit Mashjar Juthour to plant trees and protect Palestine’s environment.