Galentine’s Day: How a Made-Up Holiday Became a Celebration of Female Friendships

It's all about ladies celebrating ladies. And brunch.

The bond between a woman and her close friends can be a defining factor in her life, forming some of her most powerful and long-lasting relationships. Need proof? Check out these amazing things girlfriends have done for one another. Yet while we have holidays to celebrate every other type of close relationship, we’ve never had a formal occasion to praise those ladies. Until now.

What is Galentine’s Day?

This day is all about celebrating the unique bond women share with their best gal pals—the ladies who remember to text you when you start a new job, who bring you chocolate when you’re PMSing, who always remember your birthday, and who support you through all the ups and downs that life brings, no matter how tough things get. These best friends come in many different types, but every woman needs them in her life. Galentine’s Day is a made-up holiday (but aren’t all holidays?) and a very recent addition to the calendar of celebrations, but the relationships that it commemorates are as old as they come.

When is Galentine’s Day?

February 13th, or Valentine’s Day Eve.

How did it start?

Ever wish you could live in some of your favorite TV shows? Galentine’s Day will bring you one step closer to living your sitcom dreams, as it was “invented” by Leslie Knope, the fictional mayor of a small town on the show Parks and Recreation who was played the hilarious Amy Poehler. It started as one of Leslie’s many mini holidays but took on a life of its own because the message resonated with women in real life.

How do you celebrate Galentine’s Day?

The “traditional” way to celebrate is with a lavish brunch. Here’s how Leslie explained it in the 2010 episode of Parks and Rec: “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. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.” However, feel free to celebrate it any way you and your girlfriends like—dancing, a movie night, tacos, or even a white elephant party in which you exchange the weird gifts your exes have given you.

The one thing you must do on Galentine’s Day

However you decide to celebrate your lady friends, there is one thing that Leslie would say needs to happen: Tell your friends, from the bottom of your heart, what they mean to you and how grateful you are to have them in your life. Bonus points for stories! Not a huge talker? Try these 11 ways to say “I love you” without words.

Who is invited to the festivities?

Any of your gal pals! Make it a big party or a small soiree—there’s no wrong way to do it.

Are gifts involved?

Not traditionally, but the nice thing about a made-up holiday is that you can make it up as you go. So if you want to give your girls a little gift, go for it! Leslie would approve. For ideas, check out our list of 60 best friend gifts for every type of friend.

Why do we need a special holiday for platonic girlfriends?

The reasons vary from woman to woman, but the common thread is the desire to love, thank, and praise other women. For single ladies, Galentine’s Day helps to reinforce how cherished and valuable they are right before a holiday where they are often made to feel otherwise. And for women who are in a relationship, celebrating the day before frees up actual Valentine’s Day so they can be with their partners.

But why does it need to be connected to Valentine’s Day?

Well, for starters, it rhymes. But obvious fun puns aside, Valentine’s Day, the traditional holiday centered around love and romance, can lead to some very complicated feelings. Women, and to some extent men, are taught that they are defined by their romantic relationships, and not having one is seen as a failure. Linking Galentine’s to Valentine’s reminds us that we are more than our romantic liaisons.

The other “holiday”

February 13th has also been cheekily referred to as “Mistress Day” because it’s the day that cheating men traditionally celebrate Valentine’s Day with their mistresses so their wives won’t be suspicious on the actual holiday. Sigh. This is even more reason why we need Galentine’s Day. Don’t waste your time, ladies, with a man who doesn’t even care enough about you to be seen with you in public. And if you’re having a hard time remembering that, you have your girlfriends to remind you—so spend Valentine’s Eve with them, instead of him. By the way, do you know the dark history of Valentine’s Day?

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Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.