Where does Galentine come from?
On February 11, 2010, the TV sitcom Parks and Recreation released an episode called “Galentine’s Day” (Season 2, Episode 16). In this episode, the effervescent and earnest lead character Leslie Knope explained the made-up holiday, Galentine’s Day: “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.” The word galentine itself blends gal and valentine.
Since the episode, Galentine’s Day expanded into the broader popular culture. Some actual Galentine’s Day celebrations involve getting together with friends to exchange small gifts and eat brunch, especially waffles, a favorite of Knope’s character on Parks and Recreation.
Galentine’s Day has become widely used by brands to sell products marketed for women, particularly self-care products or gifts. In January 2017, Target curated items under a special Galentine’s Day section on its website. The items were mostly cooking appliances or food, DVDs of romantic comedies, and crafting activities. Other brands—such as chocolate-dipped fruit sellers Shari's Berries and book publishers Penguin Books—also jumped on board in 2017, using the hashtag #GalentinesDay to market products on February 13. Lifestyle blogs also publish articles explaining how to throw a Galentine’s Day party.
Celebrities have also joined in the festivities. In 2017, Blake Lively teamed up with cosmetics brand L’Oreal to throw an Instagram-ready Galentine’s Day party, and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda created a Galentine’s Day playlist for his followers on Spotify.
One 2017 New York Post op-ed called out the “rebranding” and commercializing of Galentine’s Day. According to writer Hailey Eber, making Galentine’s Day mainstream takes the fun and sincerity of “eschewing Valentine’s Day” out of it. But as Megan Garber wrote for The Atlantic, the “normalizing” of Galentine’s Day is a “subversive” action that should be celebrated.
Who uses Galentine?
While Galentine’s Day is more popular among women, the holiday itself can also include, as long as the relationship is non-romantic, male and other non-binary gender friends.
Just as one can be one’s valentine on Valentine’s Day, so one can be another’s galentine on Galentine’s Day, e.g., “Will you be my galentine?” As such, a galentine is a playful, affectionate term for a close friend. Galentine is also sometimes used as a blend of gay and valentine and is not to be confused with galantine, a fish dish.
“happy galentine's day to the amazing and strong women in my life thx for being such wonderful inspirations to better myself every day ily”
ave @catswithbenefts Twitter (February 13, 2017)
“Sometimes I feel I am annoying, but then @RakelH13 fixes that. She is the best Galentine. #Galentinesday”
@adaissquishy Twitter (February 13, 2016)
“Every day can be Galentine’s Day if you want it to be. Surround yourself with positive people who know their passions, who don’t apologize for their decisions, and who don’t humor the haters.”
Kathleen Smith, The Fangirl Life: A Guide to All the Feels and Learning How to Deal (2016)