HAINTS & GHOSTS
JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group
8 July 2021
In January of 2011, I was a bridesmaid in a wedding in beautiful Key West, Florida. The bridal party traveled down a few days early to get to know one another and enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery. One of our group outings was a Ghost Tour. I don’t remember much from this tour, but one piece of information really stuck in my mind: The residents of Key West would commonly paint the ceilings of their porches Haint Blue – a collection of pale shades of blue-green – to ward haints, or ghosts, away from the home. After learning this piece of history, I would commonly see porch ceilings painted this color across different states. It’s one of those fun facts I like to pull out of my information arsenal when the proper time arises.
What is a Haint?
Most common definitions of haint imply it’s a synonym for ghost. It’s also known as another spelling for haunt. Even Microsoft Word keeps adding the squiggly red line under haint every time I type it, suggesting I change it to haunt. No, Bill! I don’t want to. Fine, I’ll add it to the dictionary. Okay, problem solved.
So, when I was reading Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage, I was happily surprised to see her write about the definition of a haint.
“Hello?” I called, not knowing what to expect but sure I was not alone. “Who’s there?” I may see ghosts, but I don’t believe in haints. A ghost is a memory made solid, while a haint is a human spirit got free from the body but traveling this earth just the same. “Hello?” I said again, not sure what I believed in now.
As she puts it, “A ghost is a memory made solid, while a haint is a human spirit got free from the body but traveling this earth just the same.” Those are two very specific definitions with an understandable distinction. A ghost is made up of our memories. A haint is something much more unsettling. It could be a completely unknown element.
Any Future Porch
Now that I know what a haint is and how to keep one from entering my house, I know I’ll paint any future porch ceiling haint blue. I may welcome a ghost or two into my home, but I most certainly want to keep the haints at bay.
Haint that the truth?