Religion and gardening in Italy

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148.Religious and lunar observances are still followed by the gardeners in most parts of Italy. With the Romans it was customary, before any grand operation of agriculture was undertaken, to consult or invoke the god of that department; as of Flora, Pomona, &c., and to pay attention to the age of the moon, and to other signs. A good deal of this description of ceremony is still carried on, in general economy, by the priests and farmers; and gardening has not yet entirely thrown off the same marks of ignorance and religious slavery. Many gardeners regulate their sowing of kitchen-crops by the moon; others call the priests to invoke a blessing on large breadths of any main crop; some, on miner occasions, officiate for themselves; and we have seen a poor marketgardener at Savona, muttering a sort of grace to the Virgin over a bed of new-sown onions. Clarici, who published Istoria e Coltura delle Piante, &c. so late as 1726, countenances most of these practices, and describes many absurd and foolish ceremonies used for procuring good crops, and destroying insects.