How Did Galentine's Day Start?

by Emma McGowan

It’s almost February, which is when a certain very special holiday rolls around. It’s one where we celebrate those we love, showering them with gifts — or maybe just waffles. Wait, waffles? Yup — you read it right. Waffles. I know you expected me to say “chocolates” or “flowers” or “fancy dinners,” but I’m not talking about Valentine’s Day. Nope, I’m talking about the day before Valentine’s Day, which every lady in the know knows is “only the best day of the year.” Yep, February 13 is Galentine's Day, and if you've never celebrated it before, this is the year to make it happen.

Galentine’s Day has a long and illustrious history which can trace back to the year 2010 AD. That was the year that the 16th episode of the second season of the hit television show Parks and Recreation, titled “Galentine’s Day,” aired on NBC. In that episode, our leading lady Leslie Knope — played by the indomitable Amy Poehler — explains that she takes the day before Valentine’s Day to celebrate her women friends.

Because Leslie loves breakfast foods almost as much as she loves her best friend Anne, she chooses to celebrate Galentine’s Day at her favorite diner. "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,” Leslie says. “Ladies celebrating ladies. It's like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.”

Since 2010, the idea of Galentine’s Day has picked up some cultural cache, spreading from the fictional world of Pawnee and into the real world of women who know that they wouldn’t be anything without their women friends. There are Galentine’s Day memes, Galentine’s Day parties, even Galentine’s Day movie suggestions. We’ve expanded way beyond the waffles at JJ’s Diner and turned this celebration of female friendship into a day that we all can enjoy, however is best for our friends.

I’d also like to point out that celebrating Galentine’s Day does not mean that you’re anti-Valentine’s Day. The two days are totally separate holidays, even if both of them celebrate love. And I want to firmly establish that neither I nor Leslie Knope (as far as I know) are anti-Valentine’s Day. I actually think that taking one day to go all-out and get cheesy AF for romantic love is awesome. I just also think that taking another day to go all-out and get cheesy AF for friend love is just as awesome.

So this February, as you’re making your Valentine’s Day plans — even if those plans are “stay inside away from all the couples and stoke the black coal that is my cold, dead heart” — take some time to make some Galentine’s Day plans as well. Even if it’s just an email or a text to a gal pal you haven’t spoken with in a while or a bouquet of flowers for your bestie. The world can only benefit from more female friendship.