Galentine's Day: The Origins, The Purpose, And Some Great Ways To Celebrate

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Valentine's Day is the type of holiday that inspires a range of emotions in many people. Some react to its treacly sweetness with excitement and advance dinner reservations, while others hate being reminded it even exists. Still, it's impossible to do so much as your weekly grocery shopping without being accosted by rows of chocolate-stuffed hearts and floral arrangements from local shops and flower delivery services when V-Day's on its way. "Valentine's Day is not something that everyone likes to celebrate — it's very commercialized; everything is about love, love, love," gift shop owner Floribeth Pena de Amador tells The Guardian.


But why should couples get all the fun on a day that should simply represent love (and candy)? After all, so-called alternative holidays like Friendsgiving are widely accepted nowadays, with new traditions popping up annually. As a response to Valentine's Day's exclusive nature, many are choosing to celebrate Galentine's Day instead. So what exactly is Galentine's Day, and how can you make the most of it this year?

How Galentine's Day came to be

Galentine's Day's origins can be definitively traced back to the fictional character Leslie Knope, who first mentioned the event in a 2010 episode of "Parks and Recreation." In "Galentine's Day," Leslie describes the holiday, held on February 13, as a food-filled celebration of female companionship — and according to her, no men are allowed. Naturally, the term gained usage over the years, and as you might expect, it's become something of a Hallmark holiday in its own right. In September 2022, Merriam-Webster even added the blossoming term to its dictionary.


With that said, we're willing to bet that people engaged in alternative festivities on or around Valentine's Day well before the release of "Parks and Rec." "Valentine's Day is upon us. The day where everybody is a sentimental slob," Tom Buckingham wrote in 1983's Daily Iowan. The same year, partygoers with the surname Valentine'were invited to an unconventional Valentine's soirée at the Upper East Side home of Richard and Nancy Valentine. "'Now to get ready for our annual Valentine's Day party. That one [was] just for friends," Nancy told The New York Times. Search engines may not keep a perfect record of every party or event flyer, but there's a good chance that Galentine's Day-esque events took place in the pre-Internet age.


How some people celebrate Galentine's Day

While Galentine's Day is often celebrated on February 13, the day before Valentine's Day, everyone's approach to this unconventional holiday is a little different. Some choose to follow in Leslie Knope's footsteps, "breakfast style," choosing to chow down on waffles or frittatas in honor of her character. Others opt for sit-down meals — whether brunch, lunch, or dinner — on Valentine's Day itself. Although Knope's definition excluded men from Galentine's Day celebrations, you can certainly invite whomever you please to your event.


Furthermore, there are some who choose to take Galentine's Day to the next level. Beyond food and drinks, they include gift-giving as part of the festivities. "I have started to give my girlfriends really special Galentine's Day presents," influencer Joy Wilson tells E! News. Whether you stay in or go out, thoughtful touches can help ensure that your Galentine's Day guests feel the love.

Making Galentine's Day your own

When planning your Galentine's Day event, think about how your friend group usually likes to unwind. Are you movie buffs or binge-watchers? Do you love scenic adventures or prefer a night indoors? The perfect Galentine's Day gathering is one that's stress-free and fun, so don't overcomplicate things. What's more, simple tricks like soft lighting can make your home feel relaxing and inviting. "If you've just got yourself a six-pack of beer and some candles, you've got yourself a great party," designer Ruffin Costello tells The New York Times. Get-togethers can be based around something as simple as a one-dish dinner — but if you know your friends loathe cooking, go out and enjoy a multi-course brunch.


Even if you can't rally everyone together in time for Galentine's Day, nothing is stopping you from celebrating the bond between you and your other best friend. Why not hold an impromptu Palentine's Day party for your favorite fur babies? Just be sure to keep popular human gifts, like chocolates and lilies, out of reach. "Any flower in the lily family is so poisonous to cats that, literally, a nibble on the leaf, the stamen, the stem, the root, can kill a cat," Dr. Amy Attas tells People. Instead of flowers or sweets, grab Rover a puppuccino or Felix a Churu Pop and throw on some pet-friendly programming for them to watch. Valentine's Day is all about love and affection, so it's the perfect time to thank your pets for their unconditional support.


Low-cost ways to partake in Galentine's Day

Are you trying to stick to your financial resolutions this year? "The easiest thing to do to save money is to DIY your Valentine's Day," Chris Khan of tells The Washington Post. There are several ways to celebrate Galentine's Day without spending a dime. Perhaps the simplest and most cost-effective gift you can give is a homemade Valentine. Even if you don't fancy yourself a fine artist, there are few things more meaningful than a hand-written note that expresses how much you care.


For a simple activity that's oh-so-perfect for Galentine's Day, try making your own chocolate-covered strawberries or marshmallows. "Everyone loves the crunch of chocolate coating a sweet, juicy strawberry. It's a match made in heaven," product developer Anneke Anhaeusser tells Good Food. You can even split the cost of supplies with friends and try making the tangy treats together. When they've set, put on a free movie rental from your favorite streaming service and enjoy.

Galentine's Day party ideas

There's no wrong way to hold the ultimate Galentine's Day party. Start things off with cute invitations, either homemade or electronically mailed, to set the mood. Of course, a short and sweet text invite will do just as well if you're pressed for time. "I like to [invite] a few new friends, a few old friends, and the grown-ups, if you know what I mean," celebrity foodie Nigella Lawson tells Next, consider your decorating options. You can create cost-effective wall hangings using rosy-hued construction paper or go big with festive lighting and fresh floral arrangements. Roses can make a stunning Galentine's centerpiece, but any type of flower will charm partygoers.


To keep your guests held over until the main course, be sure to provide a mix of sweet and savory snacks. "I do platters, and I do it on the kitchen counter. I just think platters are great because people can take as much or as little as they want," entertaining expert Ina Garten tells CNN. Garten also suggests pulling out your best china or flatware to make your friends feel extra special.

Perfect menu plans for Galentine's Day

Ready to start fine-tuning the details of your Galentine's Day meal? There's no need to spend the entire event in the kitchen — virtually any spread can be prepared prior to your party. For instance, breakfast lovers can whip up elegant quiches, muffins, and casseroles the night before. If you're planning on eating later in the day, however, consider offering charcuterie boards, complete with cheese and wine pairings. To really keep your guests hydrated, whip up a signature cocktail, mimosa carafe, or punch bowl on the side. "[Punch] is the oldest [cocktail]. And it is fun to share. It gets the table talking," mixologist Brendan Dorr tells The Baltimore Sun.


For your main course, try a hands-off recipe that's sure to please, like a rustic stew or roast. Believe it or not, even classic French dishes like beef Bourguignon and coq au vin can be prepared in the slow cooker. Plus, don't worry about purchasing top-shelf wine for either recipe — a mid-range bottle will fare nicely. "You want to have a decent wine [for cooking]. You don't need a fantastic wine," chef Gerry McLoughlin told The Houston Chronicle.

Start a Galentine's Day tradition

What better way to get into the Galentine's Day spirit than by starting a new tradition? "Traditions create cohesion. They illustrate that we are a part of each other's lives," psychiatry professor Dr. Gail Saltz tells MarketWatch. Traditions don't have to be complex — they can be something as effortless as watching a movie together or playing a favorite board game. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide which ritual to include, but you can always take inspiration from existing holidays.


Try implementing something that gets everyone involved, like a potluck or cookie swap. Not only are sweet treats perfect for Galentine's, but your guests will also have fun making and sharing them. If baked goods aren't your thing, however, you could always try your hand at hosting a trivia night. To make things even more exciting, give partygoers the opportunity to compete for prizes at the end of the game.

Sweet gifts to share with your Galentine

Now, you don't have to buy anyone gifts for Galentine's Day. Still, if you feel so inclined, there are plenty of choices to demonstrate your affection for your friends. Sugar is inextricably linked to Valentine-themed celebrations, so give them something worth savoring with the 16 Piece Royal Jewel Box from Chocolaterie Stam. If your bestie is more of a fragrance connoisseur, pick up the Perfume Sampler Gift Set from Sephora — best of all, they can redeem their gift for a travel-sized version of their favorite scent. Or, if you want to surprise them with some bling, consider visiting the local thrift or pawn shop for some truly sustainable designs. "You can save as much as 50% or more compared to the cost of jewelry at traditional retailers," financial expert David Bakke tells GoBankingRates.


Maybe you'd prefer to gift experiences over things. In that case, treat your BFF to a day of relaxation at your favorite spa or salon, an exciting night at the theatre, or an inspiring vacation at a nearby resort. Whatever you end up doing, you'll make lasting memories and form deeper bonds. Isn't that what Galentine's Day is all about?