A 2010 episode of the hit sitcom “Parks and Recreation” featured Leslie, an artsy type, who invented a way to celebrate something valuable that hasn’t been officially celebrated before — the joys of female friendship.
Leslie called the festival Galentine’s Day, celebrated on Feb. 13, the eve of Valentine’s Day. And on this special day, she decided to celebrate the platonic love that exists among “lady friends.”
“Every Feb. 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,” said Leslie, according to Bustle.
In the episode, Leslie invites her female pals for brunch and showers them with gifts like hand-crocheted flower pens, mosaic portraits made from crushed bottled and a personalized 5,000-word essay about why they’re so awesome.
“It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas,” said Leslie.
So, is Galentine’s an official holiday?
Galentine’s Day was still a fictional concept created by fictional women until it became popular among real-life women.
But no, it’s not an official holiday, but the day marks the rising importance of celebrating friendships in the 21st century, similar to days like Friendsgiving, where you celebrate Thanksgiving with friends. Searches for Galentine’s Day have increased by 400% since 2015, per Good Housekeeping.
American traditions are making room for friendships alongside marriage, kids and the nuclear family, according to The Atlantic. Why shouldn’t it? After all, friendships create a great support system through tough times.
This previously fictional and now widely observed holiday follows the footsteps of Friendsgiving, a version of Thanksgiving celebrated with pals instead of family. The origins of this holiday can also be traced back to a television show. “Friends” first featured a Thanksgiving episode with the six buddies, along with a few plus-ones, in 1994, as I reported for the Deseret News. Though the word was never used, that’s exactly what the characters did in the show — eat with friends.
The true spirit of American tradition
Corporations were quick to take on the holiday in American fashion by making Galentine’s trinkets, greeting cards, balloons, banners, confetti, clothes and more available to consumers. It’s not just Hallmark, Party City or Etsy either, but brands anywhere from the dating app Bumble to Marks&Spencer and even Target.
“It’s sort of impossible in America for anything to enter the culture and then not be commodified, you know?” Michael Schur, the creator and executive producer of “Parks and Recreation,” told The New York Times.
“I wish it weren’t being used the way it’s used sometimes, but I’m happy that it’s being used at all because that means that it struck a chord with people,” he added.
Now, it’s become a part of the culture. Consider Michelle Obama’s tweet in 2020 in honor of this holiday: “This #GalentinesDay, I want to shout out my girlfriends who help me stay sane and grounded through all of life’s ups and downs ...
“Whether we’re catching up over the phone, venting over a cup of coffee, or laughing it out during an 80s-themed workout, I know I can lean on these ladies—and that’s made all the difference,” she said alongside a photo of a group of women wearing workout gear and wide smiles.
On #GalentinesDay, I want to shout out my girlfriends who help me stay sane and grounded through all of life’s ups and downs. Whether catching up over the phone or laughing it out during an 80s-themed workout, I know I can lean on these ladies—and that’s made all the difference. pic.twitter.com/wcnamOyTJS— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) February 13, 2020
Why is Galentine’s Day special?
Schur has worked on many other hit shows like “The Good Place,” “The Office” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” Not a lot of details from any of these shows have taken off quite like Galentine’s Day has.
“Anytime anything you write sort of penetrates this disparate culture that we’re in and catches on and sort of is echoed back to you, that’s delightful,” he said.
To be clear, Galentine’s doesn’t mean you have to boycott Valentine’s Day. Think of the two as separate holidays that both celebrate love. One leans romantic and the other platonic.
So, when you’re making Valentine’s Day plans this year, don’t forget to make plans with your gal pals and shower them with roses. And remember, no boys allowed. After all, nothing beats great female friendships.