An alternative to Valentine's Day: Galentine's Day

Chrissy Iley loves Galentine's Day -- an antidote to 14 February and the requirements of Valentine's Day.

When people would ask me what was my favourite holiday, I would always say Halloween. Of course, it’s not an official holiday but you get to dress up outrageously and Goth like and have fun. No pressures from family or partners. No expectation. And Galentine’s Day is pretty much like that.

When is Galentine’s Day?

A celebration of friendship the day before Valentine’s Day, where you get together with your besties in a non-romantic mani-pedi or cocktail moment. You celebrate being there for one another and it’s the very opposite of the non-inclusive high end red rose, red scratchy underwear, overpriced menu specials of Valentine’s Day where you feel there’s something wrong with your life if you don’t have a date or a partner or worse something wrong with you. Valentines with all its red hearts and chocolates and over commercialised sentiment is just outdated and needs an antidote.

I’ve always thought friends can be there for you in ways that your partner could never be.

My female friends are very important to me and worth celebrating! New research conducted by Noon shows that 35% of women in middle life are without a partner so their friends are some of the most essential relationships in their lives. And from the conversations I have been having, even my midlife mates with partners have never loved their girlfriends more. Last week I was chatting with a friend who said after two years of lockdown she can hear her husband blink – and she hates it!. Female bonding, with support, not expectation, has never been more crucial.

Why I hate Valentine’s Day

Even when I’ve not been single I’ve hated the competitive “My valentine was better than your valentine“ angle of things — as if there is a competition on cosy and forced sentiment. As we all know those enforced romantic dates, the silent restaurant, the over-priced rose, the pink menu is about as conducive to a really massive row as anything you can think of.

And if you don’t have a partner, Valentine’s Day is beyond frustrating and annoying — it’s hard to escape it  and hard not to feel like a cast off. And lonely as opposed to contentedly alone.

That is why I am all in favour of Galentine’s Day. So far it is one of those holidays that’s better known in the US but gradually gaining ground in the UK, (although happily even in the US we haven’t got cheesy cards with hideous quotes yet!). It is celebrated on February 13th and created by a fictional character in the TV series  Parks & Rec in which Leslie Knope gets a group of her pals together for a bunch of waffles and love.

In the show Leslie says, “Every February 13th my lady friends and I leave our husbands and boyfriends at home and we come and kick it breakfast style. Ladies celebrating ladies.”

By this we don’t mean it’s a sexual thing. It’s definitely not.

How do you celebrate Galentine’s Day?

For those of you who are not early risers, don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be breakfast. It could be wine, happy hours, a fancy reservation or an at home delivery. Or a shoe party (I was invited to one of those) and also a waffle party. On Galentine’s we are allowed carbs without guilt.

There are variations of course, and platonic male friends can be included, but the idea is it’s a celebration of female friendship, of womanly support and community which is why it is perfect for Noon.

Who hasn’t been screaming and disappointed on Valentine’s Day? Who hasn’t had a Valentines day massacre? Some people are saying Galentine’s and Valentine’s should be on the same day because it’s such a notoriously bad night for single ladies. If you go out, you’re surrounded by fake love. If you stay in, you’re a loser, which is why it originated as a breakfast celebration and as this year it falls on a Sunday, it’s begging for the brunch reinvention.

The LA way to celebrate Galentine’s Day

So how do they celebrate it here in Los Angeles? Well, Sex and the City may not have invented the Cosmopolitan cocktail, but Galentine’s has taken this fantastic drink to new heights. It was pink and it was a girl’s drink. The Cosmonaut is a riff on the breakfast martini.  This one uses raspberry preserves instead of marmalade.

I still love a Cosmo, but they became as unpopular as Chardonnay because of their ubiquity and the quality went down.

At Genever in LA (one of LA’s finest gin bars), they will be celebrating female friendships. The bar is owned and operated by three women who met in college (UCLA). They developed a tradition of spending New Year’s Eve together followed by a sleepover and mimosas in the morning. On one such morning, they were sipping mimosas and discussing their futures. They all shared a need to control their wealth and decided to launch a business together. And as they all loved cocktails, they decided to open a bar.

The gin bar Genever celebrates the women who operated speakeasies during Prohibition. They are also celebrating their Filipino heritage. Bar Direct0r Kelso Norris says “As far as celebrating friendships — the past two years have pulled us apart in every which way, but I’ve also gotten closer with friends and our bonds have deepened in surprising ways. I think a lot of us are more honest now – both with ourselves and each other. We could all do with a little celebration.”

And indeed, we could. Those lockdown Zoom cocktail parties just showed us what was lacking in our lives, and it wasn’t the ability to make the cocktails – it was the ability to drink them with friends.

So however you choose to spend it, here’s to the ladies who are always there for us. Happy Galentine’s Day!

Chrissy Iley


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Picture: Getty Images

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One response to “An alternative to Valentine’s Day: Galentine’s Day”

  1. Alexandra Gauvain says:

    Great article, thank you! I absolutely love Galentine’s Day! I’d never heard of it, but I will look forward to celebrating with my girlfriends next year. Not sure how I would have got through lockdown without my girlfriends WhatsApp group. The shared anecdotes of family shenanigans, trials and tribulations reminded me that no one’s family is perfect; and the jokes and hilarious videos kept me and my family amused every day. I am very lucky to have such a strong group of core friends. We have supported each other through thick and thin. Thank goodness for them.

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