If St Valentine was to look down at Abingdon’s Shop windows and see all the hearts and love greetings he would be surprised that this is all carried out in his name.
Looking on Wikipedia there are one or two St Valentines whose feast day is the 14th February. One was the martyr – St Valentine of Rome. One story I read is that there were pagan feasts where the names of young women were put into a box, from which they were drawn by the men by chance. The church was said to have appropriated the custom and associated it with 14th February, St Valentine’s Day. Maybe? Maybe not?
Another story has Geoffrey Chaucer’s as the founder. In the 14th century poem the Parliament of Fowls, a group of birds get together on ‘seynt valentynes day’ – to choose their mates.
Now the practice is a good commercial opportunity for shop keepers between Christmas and Mothers Day, and gives people the chance to show off their love.