You may have noticed that it was Valentine’s Day on Saturday. And no doubt on that happy occasion you were showered with bunches of red roses bought at an insanely inflated price, heart-shaped silver helium balloons bearing questionable messages, and teddy bears. Lots of teddy bears, possibly with pink or white fur, possibly clutching stuffed satin hearts embroidered with one of the aforesaid messages (‘I wuv you!’).
The custom of sending Valentines anonymously (oh god – was that card actually from Trevor in Policy?!) doesn’t seem to have caught on in New Zealand, but the rest of it has taken root and blossomed most fulsomely in recent years.
Romantic love is the kind of love that everyone goes on about, the kind of love extolled on Valentine’s Day, but actually, love comes in all kinds of varieties, some of them much underrated. You can – should! – love your friends, your family, your pets. Your neighbours, as famously suggested by Jesus. (I have great neighbours.) Your work, your creative life, the trees in your garden, the mountains you look out on from your front porch, the speeding view of fields on your train commute to work. You might love God, or food, or music, or – I don’t know – the brutalist architecture of the 1970s.
I looked for love on Te Ara, so to speak, and found the following:
- someone who really loves cars
- the Love Life Fono, featuring fabulous dresses and hairstyles
- a 1947 love letter from Molly Gore to her life partner Ada Magill on their 33rd anniversary (though an airing horse is possibly not the most romantic present)
- Jean Sergent-Shadbolt, who loves her pet rats Wendy and Lisa (I’m sure the feeling’s mutual)
- The love club EP, by Lorde
- Papua New Guinean and Solomon Islands love dances
- ‘the most outspoken book ever published!’, Married love, Marie Stopes’s 1918 guide to sex and contraception
- a love triangle involving mountains
- Rastus the cat and his love of motorbikes, though unfortunately he came to a sad end
- an album of Māori love songs, recorded in 1962 by St Joseph’s Māori Girls College Choir
- an 1894 dress reform wedding, with all the women wearing knickerbockers
- long-time partners John Jolliff and Des Smith celebrating their civil union
- love with a glove – condoms take centre stage in this 2010 poster promoting safer sex
- and something that was clearly a labour of love – this rather remarkable vegetable animal in the Kaikōura A & P show.
Happy Valentine’s Day – or, if you’re really over it, you might want to try celebrating Singles’ Awareness Day instead.