Olive harvest is one of the happy agricultural seasonal occasions in winter. It is really one of the most enjoyable festive times in the lives of Jordanians. It is accompanied by special customs and traditions practiced by families during the olive picking. These customs do not only include eating and drinking but also dancing, singing, and enjoying time with family members.
Picking of olives fruits usually starts in the beginning of (November) using specific tools such as the “safih,” “seebah,” “asa,” and “barrel.” The picking process is done with the help of family members and relatives. They start by spreading the “safih” under the tree to collect the fallen olives, and the “safih” is a number of baskets connected with each other.
All family members work together to gather the olive fruits, sift them, and remove the leaves to prevent the oil from acquiring excessive acidity. They sing traditional songs while performing these tasks.
The men are responsible for picking the olives by either pulling them off the branches using fingers supported by goat’ horns or special combs for the higher branches that women cannot reach. They also collect the olive bags and take them to the olive press.
Even the children participate by collecting the olives that fall outside the spread cloth. The pickers distribute themselves around the tree in circles and begin stripping the branches with their hands to free the fruits. Some climb into the middle of the tree to pick the fruits from the higher branches, and for areas that are out of reach, they use the barrels to stand on. Those who are at greater heights may need to climb the “seebah,” which is a double ladder that allows them to reach the high branches. They may also use a stick to knock down distant olive fruits. They gather the harvested olives and put them in bags or baskets to be later collected in a big area at home before being sent to the olive press for oil e3xtraction.
The pickers have their breakfast and lunch in the field during two short breaks. They start working early in the morning and stop when they can no longer see the fruits after sunset.

An elderly woman helps pick olives
- Archives of the Heritage Directorate / Ministry of Culture
- Intangible Cultural Heritage in Al-Balqa Governorate - Ministry of Culture 2017
- Intangible Cultural Heritage in Al-karak Governorate - Ministry of Culture 2017
- Intangible Cultural Heritage in Al- Zarqa Governorate - Ministry of Culture 2017