Colors are often used to raise awareness for social causes, and porch lights, thanks to their visibility, give supporters the perfect way to show those colors. If you notice your neighbor has changed their porch light color to something other than the usual white, there might be a good reason behind it.
Red Porch Lights
February is American Heart Month, when the American Heart Association (AHA) runs the Go Red for Women campaign to raise awareness of women’s heart disease issues. Although cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men, many are unaware that symptoms differ between the two.
As part of the campaign, the AHA established the first Friday in February as national Wear Red Day. The day involves not just wearing red, but also decorating with red. Red porch lights, along with red lights on trees and around windows, are part of this. You might also see red streamers, ribbons, and window film on businesses.
For others, red lights on February 14th are part of celebrating Saint Valentine’s Day. Red light also promotes plant growth, so some use a red porch light to help out their front porch plants.
Purple Porch Lights
In October, these porch lights are often part of a campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence issues. Since Congress designated October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), purple has become associated with these issues. It’s uncertain exactly why this color was chosen, but one theory is that it’s drawn from the purple, white, and gold flag of the suffragist National Women’s Party of the early 1900s.
In 2007, the Domestic Violence Task Force launched the Purple Lights Nights campaign with the goal of supporting survivors, honoring those who lost their lives to domestic violence, and promoting healthy relationships. The original lights used weren’t just purple, but specifically UV-A or “black lights” of 60 or 75 watts, which glow a soft, deep purple.
Now, many supporters use any type of purple light, not just in porch lights, but also by stringing purple lights in trees or around their windows. In some cities, you’ll see purple lights on landmarks, bridges, and trees, as well as purple spot lights on important buildings.
Purple is also commonly used in Halloween decorations, so that’s another reason you might see these porch lights in late October.
Blue Porch Light
April is Autism Acceptance Month, a campaign that grew out of National Autistic Children’s Week, which the Autism Society of America launched in 1972. In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared April 2nd World Autism Awareness Day. To mark this day, the organization Autism Speaks founded the Light It Up Blue campaign, encouraging supporters to wear blue and proposing that major landmarks be lit blue on April 2nd.
Some supporters also put out blue porch lights to help raise awareness and show community support for those with autism. Due to Autism Speaks’ controversial views, some who support autism-related causes avoid participating in the campaign.
Showing support for police is another reason some use blue porch lights. In 1986, Philadelphia resident Dolly Craig’s son-in-law, city police officer Daniel Gleason, was killed while investigating a vandalism report. To honor his memory, she placed two blue candles in her window. Three years later, she wrote to Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.) about her candles, and C.O.P.S developed the idea into Project Blue Light.
Now, throughout the month of December, surviving loved ones of fallen police officers take part in the campaign by using blue candles, blue porch lights, and other blue lights to honor the memory of those they lost. Many others put out blue lights to show support for police and their families.
Green Porch Lights
May is international Lyme Disease Awareness Month, with World Lyme Disease Day falling on May 12th. Lime green was chosen as the representative color to raise awareness of this common tick-borne disease, which can cause symptoms that last years even with treatment. On May 12th or throughout the month, many switch to green porch lights, tie lime green ribbons to trees and fences, and wear green.
Green lights are also used to show support for veterans. In 2015, retailer Walmart established the Greenlight a Vet campaign, which invites supporters to change one light in their home to green all year round. Green was chosen as a color representing renewal, the safety of a military base, and the sense of forward movement the word “greenlight” conveys. While some only change their porch light to green on Veteran’s Day, November 11th, others keep their green light on all year.
You might also see homes using green porch lights to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th.
Yellow Porch Light
This color is typically used for purely practical reasons. Because insects don’t see yellow light as clearly as blue, a yellow porch light is hard for moths, gnats, and other light-loving insects to find. Any warm-toned light can help keep bugs away, but yellow LED lights work especially well. Some find they work better than purpose-made “bug lights,” which are usually incandescent or CFL, rather than LED.
By using one of these lights, you’ll benefit from having fewer annoying insects around your door and the insects benefit from less light pollution, allowing them to fulfill their valuable roles in the ecosystem.
Colored porch lights are an easy, yet highly visible way to raise awareness of important issues. Whether or not you decide to participate, knowing what the colors mean helps you stay up on the topics that matter to your community.