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We've all noticed the roses popping up in our peripheral vision, the little heart-shapes drifting into our sub-conscious, the pink fluffy haze descending upon the everyday. Even the fiercest of naysayers can't resist harbouring secret hopes of a romantic stroll. It's the carnival of romance. It's utopia on earth. It's Valentine's Day.

I'll hold my hands up proudly. I love Valentine's Day. Shamelessly. Wholeheartedly. I honestly can't get enough. That's not to say I've had excessive dollops of attention in previous years, nor have I ever actually been in a relationship on the day itself. Neither of those details actually matter. Valentine's Day isn't about relationships, it's about romance. Yet I am genuinely shocked that large swathes of the population seem so averse to it. With fewer and fewer people seeking love through religion or family, surely a day championing romantic love is exactly what we need.

"Every stranger with sparkling eyes is a potential soulmate. Every new dazzling smile could be the one."

A common objection is the idea that it has a depressive impact on those without romantic partners. Yet the idea that I might find myself in the swampiest of depressive swamps on the most romantic day of the year honestly baffles me. Yes, I am without a main squeeze. I'm without even a potential squeeze. In fact, I'm utterly squeeze-less. But, that's precisely the best part: as a singleton, your life is filled with the romantic possibilities people in relationships dream about. Every stranger with sparkling eyes is a potential soulmate. Every new dazzling smile could be the one. You're free to follow any path you choose. Yes, those paths are unlikely to lead to much, but isn't there something so tantalising about the fact that they could?

The idea that Valentine's Day indoctrinates people into a couple-based, romantic-love-based conception of happiness is equally ridiculous. It merely encourages us to go beyond loving one another, and take steps to actively demonstrate that love. Saint Valentine himself was known for allowing and celebrating forbidden love, rather than experiencing it himself. Couples actually have far less ground to play with anyway. Their love is established, safe, undoubtedly requited. The chances of your precious pumpkin tossing your rose back at you in righteous indignation is somewhat slim. Even if they do, they're far more likely to be making some fierce statement against commercialism than actually rejecting your love. A leap of faith, on the other hand, love declared when the answer is unknown: that's a risk. That's romance. 


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Mountain View

From Auckland to Cambridge

I can't deny the dark underbelly of Valentine's Day in that it of course highlights a lack of love as quickly as it brings to light an abundance. Yet the same could be said of any holiday, and especially those like Christmas which insist upon giving us time to disperse and visit these apparent loved-ones, or lack of, as the case may be. In reality, the fact that this criticism is lumped particularly heavily on Valentine's Day says a lot more about the attitude we adopt than the actual day itself. We're utterly passive. We expect roses to be flung at us, and become upset when they're not. The emphasis is always on what we might receive, rather than what we might give. A similar scene at Christmas would be ridiculous - a forlorn enthusiast slipping into a depressive swamp, having given no Christmas cards or presents of their own, simply because no one spontaneously showed up with a Christmas tree under their arm - and yet in February it appears completely justified.

"Romance is a mentality rather than a relationship status... Romance is literally just a feeling of excitement around love. And, why wouldn't you be excited about love?"

Where we're usually afraid of being all mushy, Valentine's Day provides the perfect excuse to actively show someone you care, and to think for yourself about why you do. It doesn't need to be a romantic squeeze either: it can be a friend, a sibling, even yourself. The best Valentine's Day I've had was this most recent year, where I curled up with chocolates and a card from my sister and then made little vows to myself on a midnight stroll. Because all love ought to be celebrated on Valentine's Day: self, romantic, familial, old and established, new and fresh, and everything in between. Romance is a mentality rather than a relationship status, but it doesn't equate to a love affair with all things red and heart-shaped, or any words from Katherine Heigl's tongue. Romance is literally just a feeling of excitement around love. And, why wouldn't you be excited about love? Surely it's the only thing actually worth getting excited about?

So go forth: seek a new squeeze! Snatch up your phone, find a date and become a modern-day Tinderella! Bestow heaps of affection upon your most precious pals! Fling roses at your crush! Shower your friends with heart-felt cards and confetti! Submerge various family members in loving tears! Stop feigning suffocation under pink fluff and start squashing it into people's pidges instead! Make courageous and risky romantic gestures! Because, really: who knows where they might take you? Isn't that a tempting thought?

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