Galentine’s Day: How a Made-Up Holiday Became a Celebration of Female Friendships

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Romance isn't the only thing you should be focusing on in February. Galentine's Day is all about ladies celebrating ladies. And brunch.

Between all the Valentine’s Day jewelry commercials and romantic movies, it can be easy to forget that true love isn’t just about lovers. Love is also about the ladies who are there for you during all the ups and downs life brings—the ones who text you when you start a new job, bring you chocolate when you really need it, check in on you after you’ve had a baby, and always remember your birthday. You know you can count on them wherever and whenever, even at 2 a.m. This bond between best girlfriends is powerful, and it deserves to be celebrated, whether you’re single on Valentine’s Day or happily hooked up—and that’s exactly what Galentine’s Day is for!

So, as you get ready for that other holiday—thinking through Valentine’s Day ideas, Valentine’s Day gifts, and Valentine’s Day flowers—don’t forget to honor the other loves of your life. Find out the history of this fun day, and then celebrate to your heart’s content by wishing the amazing women in your life a happy Galentine’s Day, sending them some friendship quotes, and maybe even picking up a little Galentine’s Day gift. They’ll appreciate it more than you know.

What is Galentine’s Day?

This day is all about celebrating the unique bond women share with their best gal pals. These best friends come in many different types, but every woman needs them in her life. Galentine’s Day is a made-up holiday (but aren’t all holidays?) and a very recent addition to the calendar of celebrations, but the relationships that it commemorates are as old as they come.

What day is Galentine’s Day?

Galentine’s Day is February 13th, or Valentine’s Day Eve.

Where did Galentine’s Day come from?

Ever wish you could live in some of your favorite TV shows? Galentine’s Day will bring you one step closer to living your sitcom dreams, as it was “invented” by Leslie Knope, the fictional mayor of a small town on the show Parks and Recreation who was played by the hilarious Amy Poehler. It started as one of Leslie’s many mini holidays but took on a life of its own because the message resonated with women in real life.

What should you do on Galentine’s Day?

The “traditional” way to celebrate Galentine’s Day is with a lavish brunch. Here’s how Leslie explained it in the 2010 episode of Parks and Rec: “Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.” However, feel free to celebrate it any way you and your girlfriends like—dancing, a movie marathon, taco night, or even a white elephant party in which you exchange the weird gifts your exes have given you. Make it a big party or a small soiree—there’s no wrong way to do it. Getting manicures with these Valentine’s Day nail ideas could also be a fun activity.

Are gifts involved?

Not traditionally, but the nice thing about a made-up holiday is that you can make it up as you go. So if you want to give your girls a Galentine’s Day gift on the 13th, go for it! Leslie would approve. Look for thoughtful yet inexpensive presents that highlight something unique to your friendship, would be fun to do together, and will make great memories. Be sure to include a heartfelt note or funny Galentine’s Day card.

The one thing you must do on Galentine’s Day

However you decide to celebrate your lady friends, there is one thing that Leslie would say needs to happen: Tell your friends, from the bottom of your heart, what they mean to you and how grateful you are to have them in your life. Bonus points for stories! Not a huge talker? Send them a few of these funny Valentine’s Day memes.

Can guys celebrate Galentine’s Day?

It’s typically a holiday just for women (hence the name), and there are plenty of other holidays to celebrate with both genders. But if you have a special guy or two you really want to invite, go for it…as long as they’re cool with all the girly stuff. That’s the best part of this holiday—you get to set the rules!

Why do we need a special holiday for platonic girlfriends?

The reasons vary from woman to woman, but the common thread is the desire to love, thank, and praise other women. For women who are single on Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day helps to reinforce how cherished and valuable they are right before a holiday where they are often made to feel otherwise. And for women who are in a relationship, celebrating the day before frees up actual Valentine’s Day so they can be with their partners. Speaking of which, here’s how to celebrate Valentine’s Day, according to your zodiac sign.

But why does it need to be connected to Valentine’s Day?

Well, for starters, it rhymes. But obvious fun Valentine’s Day puns aside, this traditional holiday centered around love and romance can lead to some very complicated feelings. Women, and to some extent men, are taught that they are defined by their romantic relationships, and not having one is seen as a failure. Linking Galentine’s to Valentine’s reminds us that we are more than our romantic liaisons.

The other “holiday”

February 13th has also been cheekily referred to as “Mistress Day” because it’s the day that cheating men traditionally celebrate Valentine’s Day with their mistresses so their wives won’t be suspicious on the actual holiday. Sigh. This is all the more reason why we need Galentine’s Day. Ladies, don’t waste your time with a man who doesn’t even care enough about you to be seen with you in public. And if you’re having a hard time remembering that, you have your girlfriends to remind you—so spend Valentine’s Eve with them, instead of him. And on the day itself, there are all sorts of great ways to spend it if you’re single.

Sources:

  • IMDb: “Parks and Recreation: Galentine’s Day”
  • New York Post: “Galentine’s Day? Give us a break”

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Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.