I hope everyone had a beautiful Christmas and a Happy New Year!
I’ve been collecting photos for this post for some time, thinking that as the time passed I’d gather more information about this and have an awesome post to write.
But that didn’t really happen. Additionally, something is weird with my formatting for this post, so forgive me.
Blue grave sites in the south are still a bit of a mystery. I’ve heard several different reasons for painting the graves, and I will share all of them here. Special thanks to Dave Lapham for his help on this, and also to Barbara Broxterman, who offered a good deal of information as well.Barbara lives near and old (but still very active) cemetery in Levy County and was able to talk to some ladies who were there one day working, cleaning the graves. Apparently, they have a small business doing just that for other families who aren’t able to do the work themselves. I loved that.
Haint Blue, as it’s called, is a soft blue color generally found on porches in the Southern states. I never really noticed it until last summer when we were looking at houses in Sanford. Two of the homes that we visited had a gentle blue paint on the porch. I didn’t like it much though I did think it gave the porches a fresh, airy feeling. Shawn thought it was odd. Now that I know what I know, I’ll be adding blue to my porches this year.
The blue color is there because of Southern superstition. It is said to fool insects into thinking it’s an extension of the sky, so they’ll go elsewhere and not linger. It’s also said to drive away bad or evil spirits from the home. Both are positive reasons to add a little blue to your porch.
So why put blue on a grave? I know a lot of people believe that bad spirits linger in cemeteries and they would naturally want to protect their loved ones, so they’d paint the grave topper or ledger stone blue. In some cases the color can match the color of the house of the deceased or their families, and thereby continue to tie them to their home or make them feel at home in the cemetery. And then there was the more basic answer- that the paint is used to seal the cracks in the concrete. I guess that is possible too, but the paint is usually blue or white. I even noticed blue tiles in a mausoleum fountain, and even though blue is the usual color for that kind of water feature, I still felt it’s significance when you have to pass the fountain to approach the dead in the mausoleum.
This information made me pause to consider my own use of the color blue when it comes to visiting cemeteries. I have a favorite blue tee shirt that I usually wear, and my boots are blue. I wear blue shorts when I’m visiting a cemetery in hot weather, not because they’re blue, but because they fit well and I’m not worried about getting them dirty. If I was trying to protect myself in some way by doing these things it was done unconsciously.
I’ve noticed that in a lot of African American cemeteries that blue is a choice color for floral arrangements. I know this is sometimes done for men or boys, but it does seem to be very popular. What I do know is that once you start seeing blue in cemeteries, you’ll notice it everywhere.
While in New Orleans this past weekend we were fortunate enough to see the Weeping Angel in Metairie Cemetery, who is perfectly placed under 3 panes of blue stained glass, casting a moody light onto her. Aside from this mausoleum, there were many with blue glass throughout the cemetery, but to me she will always be the most beautiful with the most artfully arranged lighting.
Because I wasn’t able to find out much about this topic please share if you have more information! I’d love to hear some other ideas about why blue is so popular in cemeteries. Thanks to everyone who reads the blog, and I hope everyone has a happy and prosperous New Year!