A Hellacious Belle’s Pictorial Guide to the New South: H is for Haint Blue #AtoZChallenge

H

H is for Haint Blue

/hānt blo͞o/

Haint Blue is a traditional ceiling color of Southern porches, dating as far back as the early 1800s, with tones ranging from blue-greens to bright cerulean to blue-violets.  The purpose of the paint is to mimic water or sky and there are a couple of interesting theories behind the custom.

The Gullah people of low country Georgia and South Carolina believe that Haints, or Haunts (spirits of the dead trapped between dimensions) can’t cross over water.  Painting a ceiling (or door or window sill) a watery blue confuses the ghosts and wards them from the home.

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Sky-tinted ceilings were also believed to keep away birds and insects, fooling them into believing they were flying unprotected under an open sky.

The real truth behind this myth was most likely not the similarity to the heavens as much as the composition of colonial paints, since they were mixed with lime, which acts as a  repellent to flying critters.

Regardless, my husband swears that although lime-free, our Haint Blue porch ceiling keeps away the wasps.

Well, it’s rare I see a wasp and honestly, I don’t believe I’ve seen much in the way of ghosts, either.

“Ghosts won’t cross over water because they are afraid of getting their sheets wet.” – Anonymous

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16 thoughts on “A Hellacious Belle’s Pictorial Guide to the New South: H is for Haint Blue #AtoZChallenge

    • Well, there’s actually another connection – the fae, daoine sidhe (daonine sith) or little people of Scotland and Ireland supposedly can’t cross running water either, and they were notorious baby stealers, so the Scot-Irish settling in the deep South may have brought that idea of blue paint along with them as well. And Sidhe can’t stand the touch of cold iron, which would translate to a metal screen, so there you have it!

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  1. This was very interesting! It’s something that I haven’t had either ghosts or wasps …wait. I did see a wasp flying around bumping into the walls. He was confused,I guess.

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    • I see more blue porch ceilings in my part of the South than window and door frames, but Ihear that they’re a lot more common in New Orleans and Charleston. If the blue just keeps out evil wasps, that makes me happy!

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  2. After being a pink/yellow girl my entire life, in the last couple of months I’ve found myself falling in love with this color, this pale sky/turquoise/icy blue color. Now I have a name for it! Thank you!

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