Every February, on the 14th, much of the world goes a little crazy with messages of eternal love and purchases of innumerable roses, chocolates and greeting cards. Restaurants are booked weeks in advance, flower sellers place orders for their next Merc, and red is the colour du jour.

Very much part of the Valentine’s frenzy are the day’s detractors. You’ve no doubt met them – perhaps you’re even one of them: Indignantly spouting about how it’s all just a commercial racket and really rather meaningless, they sourly scoff at every sign of romance on the day.

While they were once rather cutting edge in their critique of this “consumerism gone mad”, they now seem to out-number the rest of us. It’s quite the thing it seems to appear above the crassness of it all.

Well, I’d like to counter these cranky prophets of our cynical age and come to the defence of Valentine’s Day.

I remember first encountering the day at school. As with everything else in that perverse institution, it was yet another competitive event – all about how many cards or roses you received or didn’t receive.

The school weirdoes (hands up) were usually left out of the giggly loop of popular boys and girls exchanging crimson trinkets and smooches in the hallways. The fact that the only person I wanted to give a rose (and oh-so-much-more) to was this blonde guy on the rowing team didn’t help with my sense of – what they term these days – ‘marginalisation’.

Now, you might imagine that this would forever make February 14 a blighted and dark day in the year for me but I’m pretty bloody resilient; I refuse to let those miserable experiences taint the day.

For me, the occasion is really about having fun. I know, I know… These days fun is either alcohol or drug induced, is rather serious business and usually ends with some twinge of regret or a pounding headache. But with ‘fun’, I mean being silly, giggling and acting just a little childlike.

I’m not a proponent of necessarily buying plastic roses and overpriced heart-shaped cards – although that can be a laugh too – but one can separate the kitsch mall-madness from the sentiment.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to add more of your cash to retailer’s profits. Cook him a fab dinner, make him a card with a photo of the two of you, watch Brokeback Mountain together at home, or heck – even pull out that pair of see-through imported underwear you only used once and give him a night he won’t forget.

I will agree with the anti-romance brigade that Valentine’s Day is not an excuse to spend the rest of the year ignoring the lovin’ needs of your beau. Romance is a state of mind, not a day on the calendar highlighted by cherubs and hearts. Indeed, a relationship is also called a romance probably because there really should be some of it spread throughout the entire experience (duh…).

If Valentine’s Day is one of three occasions in the year when you actually make an effort, then you’re certainly no romantic. (In fact, don’t even think of asking for my number…)

This year, there’s no great Valentine in my life – another topic in its own right – so I won’t be doing much overt celebrating of the day. I do however intend to spend some time, with a glass of wine, thinking back on my love affairs and the men that made them great or tragic.

So, in that spirit, this is dedicated to all the men I’ve loved before – even if we don’t speak and perhaps even actively avoid each other when in a crowd (bastards!). To the rest, thanks for the fun…

As for the day itself? Long may St Valentine’s spirit live among us, I say. With the right attitude the 14th of February can be good for your soul, and at the very least it’s great for the economy. Fight the cynicism – make a stand for fun!

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