On the Porch

The photograph featured this week is the cover of a vintage Valentine’s Day card from the museum’s collection. Inside the card it reads, “Do you know why I’m dressed in my Sunday best and smile as you pass be by? For it’s Valentine’s Day and I’m hoping to catch your eye!” This card was addressed to Diane from Gayle Lens. The card is one of several special occasion cards in the museum’s collection.

Each year on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day is celebrated by many people throughout the world for the day is celebrated as a holiday in several countries. The norm is to exchange cards, candy, gifts, and flowers with a special “valentine” and loved ones. According to the History Channel website, approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas. According to the Greeting Card Association, women purchase approximately 85 percent of all Valentine’s Day cards.

Valentine’s Day greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today is a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture a the Battle of Agincourt. Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine to Catherine of Valois.

By 1900, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards and postcards with printed text were an easy way for people to express their emotions for Valentine’s Day.

The Wheels Across the Prairie Museum in Tracy is hosting a Valentine Party this from 2-4 p.m. Sunday. This free event includes treats and a display of a few vintage Valentine cards.

The Lyon County Historical Society is a nonprofit, member-supported organization. For more information on membership, research, volunteering, or the museum’s collection, please contact us at 537-6580 or director@lyoncomuseum.org. Like our page and follow us on Facebook

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