Haint Blue

by Nika

I am painting the porch ceilings of 815 17th Avenue a color know in the south as ‘haint’ blue.

‘Haint’ blue originated in the antebellum south.  The color first adorned not the mansions of masters, but the simple shacks of African slaves.  The slaves believed that this special blue would keep evil spirits, or ‘haints’, at bay.   ‘Haints’ were considered by the slaves to be spirits trapped between the worlds of the living and the dead.  These were not quiet, floaty, sorrowful ghosts; ‘haints’ were considered to angry and vengeful.  They were thought to wreck havoc among the living.

However, ‘haints’ were considered to have one key weakness, they cannot cross water.  Apparently, the watery blue-green color of ‘haint’ blue on your porch ceiling has the same effect as surrounding your house with a moat.  It affords easy protection against malevolent spirits.

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But, there is also another southern folk legend attached to ‘haint’ blue, one that was passed down to me by my own great-grandmother.  She taught me that the blue on porch ceilings served a more down-to-earth purpose than spiritual protection.  Apparently, applying sky-blue to your porch ceiling tricks swallows, wasps, and other pests into building their nests elsewhere.

Whichever story you may choose to believe, ‘haint’ blue is a lovely color and a great southern tradition.