This weekend, we have something very rare occurring. This coming weekend is a holiday weekend (which for many people means three days off!) wherein every day of the holiday weekend is actually a holiday. That’s right—three holidays, boom, one right after the other. On Monday, we have President’s Day. Sunday, of course, is Valentine’s Day, that strange day acknowledged by all but for which we receive no time off and which people actually hate. And on Saturday, Galentine’s Day.
For those who might not have heard of Galentine’s Day, let me explain as simply as possible: it’s ladies celebrating ladies. A holiday founded by Leslie Knope (of Parks and Rec) to take time, preferably over brunch, to celebrate your best female friendships and remind your lady friends just how much they mean to you. Basically, it is Valentine’s Day for platonic love.
What an amazing concept, right? So simple, yet so groundbreaking. I can’t believe it took so long for someone to think, hey, if we have an entire day set aside to celebrate romantic love (whether we want to or not), we absolutely should also have a day to celebrate our friendship love! I mean, it’s practically a given that we will have more friends at any one time than we do romantic partners. Why don’t we give them a whole day to celebrate each other, remind them how much they mean to us and share a lovely meal?
If you think about Galentine’s Day in terms of being similar to Valentine’s Day, I think the case for it is even stronger. For most of us, we have girlfriends before we ever have our first romantic partner. Our friends don’t always stay the same for our whole lives, but our first friend came long before our first love. And in many cases, extend much longer after.
Human beings can live without long-term romantic partners—just look at those who choose not to marry until later in life, or not all. But to live without friends, without any sort of platonic love—well, it’s possible, but who can imagine a life like that?
There’s a saying about how guys (or romance in general) can come and go, but friends are forever. That’s not always the case—friends do come and go sometimes as well—but the idea is that your true friends were there first and will be, in many cases, there longer.
Unfortunately, it is also sometimes the case that when love love comes around, we can neglect our other loving relationships. Most of us have probably had this happen at some point—a friend starts a new relationship and suddenly disappears—whether we’ve been the one doing or receiving the ghosting. That whole phenomenon is a topic for a totally different time, but it’s an illustration of exactly what I believe Galentine’s Day represents: Carving out a special time to devote to your best friends. It’s taking the time to tell them how much they mean to you, showering the attention and love and chocolate on them that television and movies tells us we should expect from our lovers on Valentine’s Day. In short, to me, Galentine’s Day is about remembering to treat our platonic loving relationships as every bit as important as our romantic ones. Because if our current romantic relationship ends at some point, where will we turn? Our friends.
Which is why I think it’s important to celebrate Galentine’s Day all year long. I feel the same way about Valentine’s Day—though I don’t “hate” it, or refuse on principle to wear pink or red that day, I tend not to treat it much differently. I believe we shouldn’t show affection because we’re supposed to, but because we want to. I feel that way now—10 years into a romantic relationship—but of course, I might have been a little put out if my boyfriend had completely ignored our first Valentine’s Day together. We celebrated the first few in style, then had a frank discussion about expectations and decided we’d rather spread Valentine’s Day out over the whole year.
And that’s what I’d like to do with Galentine’s Day as well. The holiday is still fairly new, so I absolutely support the idea of waffle brunches and handmade cards for your gals. But hopefully, as the idea spreads, it becomes easier to take the idea of Galentine’s Day and hold it year round. To tell your best friend you love her more than once a year. To schedule special friend dates—not ones where you need roses and friend romance, but dedicated times to do something simple to celebrate your friendship.
The best part about Galentine’s Day is that it takes nothing away from its romantic counterpart. There’s no competition between the spirit of Galentine’s Day and that of Valentine’s Day—it’s about treating each relationship equally, putting effort into each. Because you can put effort into one relationship without taking anything from another. And Galentine’s Day is the best reminder of that I’ve seen so far.
If you’ve never celebrated Galentine’s Day before, maybe give it a try this year. You don’t need to host a fancy party or anything like that. Just take some time to tell your friends—women or men—how much you appreciate them and how much joy they add to your life. Maybe next year throw a party. And maybe the year after that, just remember year round how much better relationships are when you appreciate and are grateful for them.