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Let’s Hear It For Galentine’s Day!

No, there’s not a typo in the headline. I’m aware that a better-known and more widely celebrated holiday is on February 14 — Valentine’s Day — but this blog is going to focus on Galentine’s Day, which is February 13. Not heard of it? Well read on.

Valentine’s Day is all about being forced to exhibit feelings you may or may not have. That behavior starts early on, when we’re obligated to make Valentine’s for everyone in our classes as young elementary school students. I remember not being too into that at the time — there was a particular boy in my first grade class who was really obnoxious — but we are conditioned to make sure everyone feels included.

I’ve celebrated a few romantic Valentine’s Days in my life, but more times than not, February 14 has just been another day on the calendar. A few years ago, my married sister perhaps took pity on me and sent me some gorgeous purple roses from my niece and nephew; I thought the delivery guy had come to wrong house at first — except for the fact that purple is my color.

For people who are in loving relationships — happily married or cohabitating, or seriously and even not-so-seriously dating — Valentine’s Day provides the opportunity to shower your significant other with gifts like flowers and chocolates, and go all out on a nice dinner. But what about the millions of us who are unattached — or the other special people in our lives who deserve celebrating?

While I may say “bah, humbug” to Valentine’s Day, I’m all in for Galentine’s Day.

What is Galentine’s Day?

Galentine’s Day is a time to bring together the ladies in your life you love most. It does not take the place of Valentine’s Day — you can celebrate both — but it’s designed to honor the other equally important relationships in our lives: our girlfriends. You’ve probably heard the saying, “men come and go, but girlfriends are forever.” I’ve found that to be true.

Who Founded Galentine’s Day?

Leslie Knope, the beloved fictional deputy director of “Parks and Recreation” in Pawnee, Indiana, played by Saturday Night Live alum Amy Poehler, created Galentine’s Day. The writers centered the 16th episode of the second season of the show around Leslie’s favorite February tradition, Galentine’s Day. Over a brunch of waffles and excessive gift-giving, she celebrated the joy of female friendship with close friends and co-workers.

What was previously an unknown and unofficial holiday immediately skyrocketed in popularity, so much so that businesses have created Galentine’s Day promotions in honor of the celebration. Special happy hours, group spa discounts, and brunch deals are popular ways to honor the occasion, as the once-fictional holiday filled a void in the Valentine’s Day market that left single women feeling alienated by the pomp and circumstance of the lover’s holiday.

The holiday Knope invented bares striking similarities to her character — over-the-top generosity and impassioned sincerity. Galentine’s Day is to Valentine’s Day what Friendsgiving is to Thanksgiving: a chance to recognize the impact our friends have on our lives and thank them for their loyalty, love, and laughter.

In Knope’s own words, “Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13, 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.”

Galentine’s Day Statistics

Like Seinfeld’s Festivus, Galentine’s Day has seemingly gained momentum even if the show that spawned it is long gone. While it became a trending topic on Twitter a year after it was first celebrated on TV in 2010, if you search #GalentinesDay on Instagram today, you’ll find more than half a million posts of women celebrating other women in honor of the holiday.

Hallmark has even gotten into the fact, releasing a line of Galentine’s Day cards and others focused on platonic relationships. It chose to go that route after seeing sales for Valentine’s Day specifically were trending downward — and nearly 66 percent of women who were purchasing cards in mid-February were doing so for non-romantic relationships, including friends and family.

How to Celebrate

There are any number of ways to show your girlfriends how much they mean to you on Galentine’s Day. Four particularly good ones are:

  • Gather for a decadent brunch

  • Send them a traditional or electronic card

  • Buy them a meaningful or silly gift

  • Choose to pamper yourselves together — get pedicures or have a spa day

Now this is a holiday I can really get behind. What about you? Show your gal pals how much they mean to you this Galentine’s Day — and share with us if you do something noteworthy.

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