Why Are Porch Ceilings in Charleston Blue?

A Charleston door painted in Haint blue

While meandering along the Holy City’s downtown streets, countless details may catch your eye. The artfully arranged window boxes. The flickering gas lanterns. The intricate ironwork of the gates and balconies. The rainbow of pastel-hued homes. The charming front porches, offering a welcome respite from the summer heat. While admiring these porches in particular, many visitors find themselves asking the same question:

Why are porch ceilings in Charleston blue?

Although no one shade of blue officially claims the name, “haint blue” porch ceilings have become a defining characteristic of homes throughout Charleston and beyond. The tradition stems from the Gullah Geechee communities of coastal South Carolina and Georgia, who have painted porch ceilings (and other exterior features of homes, such as shutters or doors) blue for generations. The purpose? To protect their homes from “haints,” or evil spirits.

Varying beliefs exist regarding what makes the blue an effective deterrent. Some claim that haints can’t traverse water, so the ocean-reminiscent color keeps them away. Another interpretation says haints confuse the ceiling color with the sky and pass through it without disturbing the home’s residents. Haints aside, the similarity to the sky is believed to deter another unwelcome visitor from setting up camp on a porch: wasps.

Haint Blue citronella candle

Haint blue porch ceilings are just one of many ways the Gullah Geechee people have influenced Charleston’s architecture, customs, and culture. When dreaming up our first citronella candle, I was inspired to name it Haint Blue—not only to call out this recognizable aspect of Charleston homes, but also to share the story behind the tradition. To learn more about the Gullah Geechee and how people are working to keep the vibrant culture alive, I recommend exploring the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission (especially their robust calendar of events) when planning your trip to Charleston.

Kristen walking while holding a Haint blue candle
Haint blue candle sitting on table

Our Haint Blue Citronella Candle

Now a staple in our shop every summer, our Haint Blue citronella candle was a labor of love. I set out to combine scents that smelled just as beautiful as our other candles, while ensuring the citronella still shined through and kept pesky mosquitoes at bay. I landed on a summery blend of persimmon, bamboo, eucalyptus, and lemongrass, which meld beautifully with citronella for a scent you’ll love, but the bugs will hate.

Haint blue candles and sweetgrass basket

Haint Blue is available in both a 12. oz matte glass and a 9 oz. tin, both in elegant shades of its namesake blue. Along with keeping them well-stocked on my front porch, I love having a few on hand to bring to summer gatherings as a beautiful and practical hostess gift.

Shop our Haint Blue Candle

Want to explore more of Charleston? Check out our Cannonborough/Elliotborough Neighborhood Guide!

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