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Ceremonies, Symbols, and Traditions of the Ancient and Modern Olympics
Ancient Olympic Ceremonies
Ancient Olympics
Ancient Olympic Ceremonies
Ancient Olympic Symbols and Traditions
Father of Modern Olympics
Modern Olympics
Modern Olympic Ceremonies
Modern Olympic Symbols and Traditions
Olympic Extras!

For the majority of the ancient Olympics, the ancient Olympics lasted five days. Each day was considered to be religious, like a ceremony.

On the first day of the ancient Greek Olympics, the herald and trumpeter called out the athletes name, his fathers name, and his home city. After all of the names were called out, the herald officially declared the Olympic Games open. Originally, the whole day was set aside for sacrifices, but later, events for boys, heralds, and trumpeters were held.


On the second day of the ancient Greek Olympics, some sporting events were held, but it was mainly a day of celebration. Athletes and wealthy Greek individuals hosted colossal feasts, which included a plentiful amount of food and entertainment. Amusing parades were held in the streets of Olympia, the city created especially for the Olympic Games.


The third day of the ancient Greek Olympic Games was specifically set aside for sacrifices only. Everyone, including participants of the Olympics and spectators, gathered at Zeus altar to make sacrifices to the mighty god, asking him to grant their wishes. At every Olympic Games, one hundred oxen were sacrificed in honor of Zeus at his altar at Olympia.


Statue of Zeus
Olympia, Greece

Crown of Olive Branches

On the fourth day of the ancient Greek Olympic Games, only sporting events were held. All day long, pistols went off and athletes fiercely battled each other for the ultimate prize of fame and prosperity. The victors did not receive their prize until the next day, which was the fifth and final day of the Olympics.


On the fifth and final day of the ancient Greek Olympics, the victors received their prize. All of the winners gathered at the Temple of Zeus, carrying palm branches and wearing red headbands, which were given to them immediately after they won their sporting event.  The winners were presented with a simple olive branch, which was cut with a gold-handled knife from a wild olive tree in the backyard of the Temple of Zeus. The Greeks believed that the vitality of the sacred tree was transmitted to the recipient through the olive branch. First place winners received a diploma, medal, and a crown of olive branches. Second place winners received a diploma, medal, and a crown of laurel branches. There was no third place, but all competitors received a medal for their participation in the games. Most of the time, victors held feasts for others or in honor of themselves, which included plenty of food, music, and entertainment. Often, poetry was commissioned in honor of athletic victors. Everyone found out about the victors because poems were extremely popular and read by most.



"The Olympic Games are for the world and all nations must be admitted to them."

-Baron Pierre de Coubertin