Agricultural Folklore Practices

Have you ever heard the saying “knock on wood?”  With the planting of the first crop by humans, a number of folklore was soon developed. This folklore has had a lot of mystical influence on agriculture and farming. We keep these folklore dear to us.

People say “Knock on wood” for good luck and hope all goes well with them. The tradition for saying “knock on wood” is a belief of our ancestors who relied a lot on trees. Trees provide safety, materials to build our houses and start fires to cook, food, and medicine. Our ancestors considered that trees have protective power or tree spirits that watch over us to make sure all things go well with us.

Our ancestors also believed that nature was protected by spirits, particularly one called Papa Bois. In Trinidad and Tobago, he is considered as the keeper of the forest and protects all flora and fauna. Belief in Papa Bois guided our ancestors actions towards animals and plants whenever they entered the forest.

Folklore also surrounded the planting herbs. Let us have a look at some herbs.


Fennel is a useful herb in cooking. But our ancestors considered that if you hung fennel over doors, it would help prevent the devil (witches) from getting into homes with dark magic. The seeds were used in keyholes as well.

Oregano is used to crown brides and grooms to wish them future happiness.

Rosemary is used to protect and ward of evil spirits and witches.

Sage is a another popular herb used for cleansing.

Another age old practice comes from gardening by the moon. Our ancestors believed the moon governs moisture. They called it the Moon’s phases. Moon phases guided the farmer or gardener in the past, and still do today.(Source)

Examples of moon phases:

  • Moonrise. This occurs in the evening and it is believed to bring fair weather. 
  • The waning moon is dry.
  • The New Moon and first quarter is considered fertile and wet. It is a good time to plant above-ground crops, putting down sod, grafting trees, and transplanting.
  • The full moon through the last quarter is a good time to kill weeds, thin, prune, mow, cut timber and plant below-ground crops.
  • The time just before the full moon is considered particularly wet. It is the best time to plant during a drought.

The moon even determines when farm animals should be slaughtered, best days for fishing, and when to set eggs to hatch, etc.