Recently, I had someone tell me they'd been driving down many of the back roads in Maine and had come across a handful of porches that had different colored bulbs lighting them.

They asked me what the colors meant, and if this was a widely practiced thing, or something done only here in Maine.

Explosion of colored powder, isolated on white background

I have heard different explanations for some of the colors, but not others. So I decided to do some research on the subject.

And here's what I found out: There are multiple explanations.

For example, let's start with what a green light means.


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I first went to a website called (seemed an appropriate place to start).

According to those folks, a green light on the porch could be to celebrate a couple of different things.

"Green lights are most common during St. Patrick’s Day. It also shows appreciation for U.S. Veterans and active Military members! While Memorial Day is only once a year, you can still honor those who have fallen every day of the year with a green light."

A scan of the website Reddit uncovered that the green bulbs were also, at one point, used to show support to certain sports teams, and for loved ones who had died of Covid.


red background - Illustration

The red bulbs have several different meanings, too, one of which is a bit on the scandalous side. Historically used to signal that the building or home contained prostitutes (hence the nickname The Red Light District) in more modern times red lights on the porch celebrate International Firefighter's Day, or firefighters in general.

It's also used to celebrate heart health and Valentine's Day.

I was surprised to read, on several websites, accounts of red lights being used as signals by drug dealers, to drug buyers, to represent whether it was safe or not to stop by and purchase drugs.

One man on mentioned that red lights are often left on at night because it's easier on the eyes for folks who need to get up and move around the night.

Along those same lines, one person on Reddit said red bulbs also help wildlife.

"Red lights at night can also be used in order to help out nocturnal animals like bats. The red light does not affect their vision in the darkness the way that regular white light would. The same goes for humans, if you're into hobbies like astronomy."



Blue lights have often stood for law enforcement, with households that had loved ones on the police shining blue lights for fallen officers.

It has also come to be a sign of Autism support or support for Ukraine (sometimes mixing with yellow lights.)


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Speaking of, yellow is another color often seen on porches.  Aside from the abovementioned reason, there's a more practical reason for people to choose that as their bulb color.

According to this website, yellow bulbs help keep bugs away.

"Yellow porch lights are said to help reduce the number of bugs you have flying around. If you are trying to get rid of bugs around your porch light, this is a great option to try."


A purple light is usually used to show support for domestic violence victims.

Tinnakorn Jorruang
Tinnakorn Jorruang


And pink porch lights show support for breast cancer awareness or survivors.


Now, by no means is this the complete list of all the reasons. There are likely more not on this list.

It also seems like this is not just a Maine thing, but folks all over the nation do it.

But at least now you have a little insight into what they could mean when you pass them.

(The best way to find out why someone is sporting a particular color of porch light would be to ask them directly.)

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