What is Galentine’s Day?
Galentine’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate female friendships. It’s typically celebrated before Valentine’s Day, and is a complement (or alternative) to Valentine’s Day’s focus on romantic love.
Galentine’s Day was invented in 2010 by the popular TV sitcom Parks and Recreation. Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler), celebrates Galentine’s Day annually on February 13th with her female friends and her mother.
For Galentine’s Day, Leslie and her crew leave their husbands and significant others at home to meet up for breakfast. Leslie gives her friends gifts, including “a mosaic portrait of each of them made from the crushed bottles of their favorite diet soda, and a personalized 5,000 word essay of why they're all so awesome.”
Leslie defines the occasion best: “Oh, it’s only the best day of the year… Ladies celebrating ladies… Plus, frittatas!” – Leslie Knope
Why Celebrate Galentine’s Day?
More than 10 years past its creation, Galentine’s Day is still going strong. Merriam-Webster includes “Galentine’s Day” in its list of “words we’re watching.” And it has been written up by the New York Times as an “unofficial holiday.”
As the Times points out, Galentine’s Day is a commercial opportunity for vendors and restaurants featuring themed brunches and other money-making opportunities. But its appeal and benefits run much deeper.
Galentine’s Day brings a light hearted and inclusive twist to a holiday that can otherwise be heavy or difficult for people who feel excluded. (It's a little like Seinfeld’s Festivus that way!) For people who are feeling lonely, Galentine’s Day is a chance to organize a fun gathering with friends rather than feel bad amidst others' shows of romantic affection.
Even if you do have a romantic partner, it’s totally OK to celebrate both Galentine’s Day *and* Valentine’s Day.
Time with Friends is Good for Your Health
In addition to its other benefits, celebrating Galentine’s Day can be good for your health. Of course spending time with friends is fun. But many people don't realize how critical it is for both their mental and physical health.
Research shows that socializing with friends improves your happiness (obviously!). Social connection is a core psychological need, and is linked to well-being across cultures. Friendships and social connection can also prevent mental decline and even enhance physical health and longevity.
Super busy women (including many mothers) tend to bump time with their friends to the bottom of their long to-do lists. And that’s not sustainable in the long term. While one expert from Oxford University recommends socializing with friends twice a week, that may be a stretch for some of us, especially during a pandemic.
But we’ve put together some ideas for connecting with friends this Galentine’s Day and beyond, including some virtual options.
Unique Galentine’s Day Ideas
1.) Virtual Happy Hour – I kicked off Galentine’s Day a little early this year. I joined a virtual Galentine's Day party hosted by the ladies of HIT Like a Girl podcast, Joy Rios and Robin Roberts. HIT Like a Girls is a community that connects, celebrates, and advocates for women working in the field of health information technology (HIT).
For the happy hour my friend and former colleague Julie Mann demonstrated how to make a delicious drink with vodka and ginger (an ingredients list was sent around in advance). And then we just talked about stuff ranging from emerging tech trends to how to dispose of old lipstick. Along the way we discovered some fun Zoom filters.
2.) Home Spa with a Rom-com – Back in college I was in an acting group. Following our final production of the Tempest senior year, my friends and I had pretty bad skin after weeks of applying thick stage makeup. So I hosted a spa day party / game night in my dorm at which we wore deep-cleansing face masks as we all unwound and relaxed.
Years later I still love the chance to hang out with female friends for some kind of self care—like a mask or a manicure. And unless you just have too much talking to catch up on, watching a movie or playing a board game at the same time can also be fun.
3.) Go Out for Brunch—or Dinner – Take a page from Leslie Knope’s playbook and meet your friends for brunch. Or dinner. Personalized needlepoint pillows with your friends’ faces on them are optional.
4.) Stay in and Bake – Baking is always a fun activity. If you’re physically separated from your friends, you can even share recipes and bake the same thing virtually while you video chat.
5.) Explore Something New in Your Area – People often say that the locals are the last people to visit the main tourist attractions in their own cities. Maybe it’s your turn. If you’re in New York, grab a friend or two and go see the Statue of Liberty.
It doesn’t have to be mainstream. If you’re in Vermont, take a road trip to Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard, which displays clever commentaries on the "graves" of the ice cream flavors that are no longer with us.
6.) Go Shopping – This is a perfect activity for women to do with each other. A survey Psychology Today reported on found that men get tired of shopping within 26 minutes, while it takes women a full two hours. They speculate that this difference may have something to do with gender roles and our hunter gatherer roots. Whatever the reason, it definitely jibes with my life experience. So go ahead and enjoy shopping with your female friends!
7.) Make Soap – This one is a little quirky, but it’s something I’m actually planning on doing with my daughter this week. I bought literally pounds of raw glycerine plus scented oils, sparkles, and soap molds for a school fundraiser that got canceled because of COVID. So why not make some heart shaped soap and give it to other gal pals who will appreciate them as a Happy Galentine’s Day gift?
Whether you formally celebrate Galentine's Day or not, don't forget to let your female friends know how much you appreciate them. Do you have any plans?