I Choo-Choo-Choose You: Putting Friends First This Galentine’s Day

Tara McCamley looks at the growing popularity of Galentine’s Day and why its mainstream success is both a good and bad thing for the holiday

The month of February can be a tough time for people. Coming off of a drab and seemingly endless January only to be greeted by an onslaught of love designed to make you feel miserable for once again failing to obtain a special someone in time for that ever dreaded February 14 deadline.

If you’re single for Valentine’s Day it can be seem like a horrible and depressing prospect. Being alone for a day that celebrates love seems like it’s a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. Similarly if you do find yourself lucky enough to be part of a dynamic duo, the pressure of getting gifts and pulling off elaborate display of love and affection for this one day is equally as terrifying. My suggestion to women is to boycott this soulless holiday and opt instead to celebrate the much more wholesome and happy Galentine’s Day.

What is Galentines Day exactly? Well I’m glad you asked. The holiday itself stems from the popular television show Parks and Recreation in an episode that aired in 2010 aptly called Galentine’s Day in which the founder of this magnificent holiday Leslie Knope throws her annual Galentine’s Day party to celebrate her best female friends. This most sacred of days takes place on February 13 and as the founder of the feast said: “Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. 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”.

Today, celebrate your lady friends. #BeMyGalentine

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Since the episode first aired the holiday has been a staple tradition between ladies gathering together to celebrate their love and friendships. It has transcended the show, becoming a fully fledged unofficial holiday in the past few years. I myself have personally celebrated Galentines for at least the past two years with various different groups of Gal Pals enjoying meals, movies and of course — the signature food of Ms Knope herself — the blessed waffle.

Awareness of the holiday has spread too, thanks to social media hitting a peak last year when the hashtag #GalentinesDay trended on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr on February 13. This year the term has been shared over 200,000 times on Instagram and Pinterest saw a 245% increase on pins surrounding the holiday. Support and success for this holiday truly lives online and the spike in its popularity through social media further proves that this once niche pop culture reference is now a celebrated and highly anticipated tradition amongst the female population of the world.

“Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. 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”

Though nothing can truly be deemed mainstream until capitalism claims what was once a pure expression of female appreciation and decides to brand it for itself and capitalise on it. This year it certainly has. Last year in the United States, brands as big as Target launched Galentines themed products and this year that branding has spread across the pond with stores like Debenhams launching a Valentines vs Galentines marketing campaign and other stores like New Look and Dorothy Perkins  launching a Galentines shopping section as well. The online card retailer Moonpig also offers a handy Galentines card section so you can show the most important lady in your life how much you care and of course other online retailers like Amazon have jumped on the bandwagon creating mini sections in order to buy your pals the perfect gift if felt so inclined.

Seeing such big brands and stores buy into the idea of Galentines day is great as it adds to the legitimacy of the day and further cements its status in culture. However, there is a fear that building a brand and shopping opportunity out of it would dampen or trivialize what is essentially a day for women by women to celebrate what is the most important and often underplayed and overlooked aspects of our lives, our close, platonic relationships with other women.

These items specifically geared towards or branded around Galentines confirms that there is a willing and open market for items and events like these and will only serve to further interest in the holiday as the years go on. However it’s important to remember that the true meaning of the day is to gather your girls together and let them know how much you love and adore them.

So if you’re as cynical as I am and believe that Valentines is just a corporate scheme designed to make people of all genders and relationship statuses miserable, or if you simply want to ditch the hassle and stress that February 14 brings to us all, then skip it this year. Call up your squad and hit the town to start your very own Galentine’s traditions.

Hit the club, go to a fancy dinner or simply stay in with Netflix and a pizza, even call all your friends and tell them how much you love them because really how often do you get the chance to dedicate a day to let the world know how much you value and adore the ladies of your life? And as you celebrate this most hallowed of days never forget these sacred words from its beloved creator: “Uteruses before Duderuses. Ovaries before brovaries.”

 

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