While February 14th, a.k.a. Valentine’s Day, is widely celebrated (and equally scorned) as a largely commercial, yet sweet day to recognize romantic love, many ladies may also have a different day circled in their calendar: February 13th. This is not known as Valentine’s Day Eve, but as Galentine’s Day, a holiday that strives to re-center one’s thoughts around the importance of our cultivated friendships. Especially now, in a time where the pandemic has not left much room for newly blossoming romances, more people might find themselves without a romantic partner when the 14th rolls around. Likewise, with tightening social circles and escalating stresses, the friendships that buoy us through life can seem more important than ever. Galentine’s Day embraces these truths, and provides a new, positive perspective on a season that can work to make those who are sick of silly love songs just feel over it. Never heard of Galentine’s Day or are looking to clear some misconceptions about the holiday? Read on for guidance in the ways of Galentine’s Day.

Wait, when is Galentine’s Day again?

For all of you looking to plan some pandemic-appropriate festivities for you and your girls, you should be marking February 13 in your calendars.

But where does “Galentine’s Day” even come from?

The ancient lore of Galentine’s Day can be traced back to the year of 2010, where Amy Poehler’s fictional character, Leslie Knope, from the sitcom Parks and Recreation first introduced audiences everywhere to her tradition of celebrating the female friendships in her life. To use a much-loved quote directly from the show, Leslie sells the holiday quite convincingly: “Every February 13, my ladyfriends 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.”

 Ladies celebrating and supporting other ladies? Brunch foods? Who wouldn’t be into that?

Is Galentine’s Day only for single women?

Well, according to Leslie’s quote above… absolutely not! Galentine’s Day is about celebrating female friendships, which can and do occur regardless of whether or not you are in a relationship! Especially given that the holidays fall on two different days, it seems reasonable that you can celebrate both Galentine’s and Valentine’s Day. It’s all about balance, and that might just mean dedicating time to spend with your close friends as well as with your significant other.

Is Galentine’s Day sexist or anti-feminist?

There is an argument against Galentine’s Day that is based on the lack of a male equivalent to Valentine’s or Galentine’s Day. Some have pointed to how this may highlight the perpetuation of an outgrown stereotype of the bitter, single spinster woman who is teetering on the edge at any trace of romance around Valentine’s Day and must use Galentine’s Day as a crutch or a poor substitute. While it may be important to acknowledge this fact, especially given the vastly different treatment and framing around single men (for those watching Netflix’s Bridgerton: isn’t it odd that the long-single men are merely “bachelors” whilst the women are “spinsters”?), this doesn’t seem to cancel Galentine’s Day completely. For the most part, Galentine’s Day is not a collective attempt of many sad, anti-men, single women to overthrow an age-old holiday and replace it with one to fill an imagined hole in their hearts. Galentine’s Day can be seen as a necessary part of the re-framing process that is feminism at its core! It is about acknowledging and, more importantly, celebrating that love comes in all different forms, and that love in friendships is just as powerful and potent as love in romance. It’s not leaning into the patronizing idea that women need to be tied in romantic partnerships to survive, but is instead the push-back against it. Because we don’t need Galentine’s Day as much as we don’t need Valentine’s Day. But it’s nice to have both to create a more balanced picture of love in a month that is supposedly dedicated to it. Women are multifaceted. We are allowed to love on Valentine’s Day and embrace our female friendships on Galentine’s Day without it being reduced to the naïve endeavors of wide-eyed girls who some think are unable to make choices outside of the pressures of society. We know what we’re doing. So, instead of using Galentine’s Day as the battlegrounds to divide us, let’s embrace Leslie Knope’s words and use the day as a reminder to celebrate and elevate other women, just as we must do every day of every year-- though a little extra love never hurt anyone, right?

January 15, 2021 — Skarlett Blue