When images of hearts, chocolates and flowers begin popping up all over, you know that Valentine’s Day is soon approaching. Of course, the holiday has become highly commercialized since its origins in the 1800s: Couples typically celebrate by exchanging gifts, cards and other expressions of affection. After Mother’s Day, it’s the second busiest day for dining out at restaurants.
Yet, as nice as it is to have a spouse or lover on Valentine’s Day, neither one can substitute for a close female friend. Spending time with a good friend is as comfortable as slipping into a pair of well-worn jeans. Best friends often seem joined at the hip because they never run out of things to discuss, always find something to laugh about, and share secrets they would never reveal to anyone else. What guy can possibly understand how the seasonal terror of looking for a bathing suit that makes you feel good?
Even when friendships are challenged by geography or changed life circumstances (e.g., graduation, marriage, new careers, giving birth, serious illness, etc.), the bonds of sisterhood are so strong that they can overcome these hurdles. But all friendships, even very good ones, require nurturance to survive and thrive.
Galentine’s Day is the perfect time for friends to recognize the importance of these vital ties.
What the heck is Galentine’s Day?
Galentine’s Day is celebrated on February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day, each year. Much like the holiday tradition of Festivus popularized on Seinfeld, Galentine’s Day is another product of pop-culture. The writers of the award-winning sit-com, Parks and Recreation, created this one.
On Episode 16 of the show’s second season (which first aired in February 2010), the lead character Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) throws her annual Galentine’s Day brunch for female friends, proclaiming it the “best day of the year.” Since then it’s moved from the screen to terra firma, catching on with many women.
How to celebrate
If you want to nurture the female friendships that sustain you, here are five ways you can celebrate on February 13:
1) Gather your friends
Mid-week get-togethers can be tough, especially when women are juggling school, work and/or family. But get a babysitter or plan ahead to figure out a way to set aside time to do something you enjoy with friends. Meet for cocktails after work; invite your bestie to join you for a self-indulgent manicure, massage or spa day; or organize a group lunch for female co-workers or potluck dinner at home for your girlfriends.
2) Plan a future getaway
If you haven’t had face-time with your bestie for a long time, don’t count on your shared memories alone to last forever. Make plans to schedule a girlfriend getaway this spring or summer. Begin the planning process on Galentine’s Day. Talk about where you would both like to go and what you want to do.
3) Craft a hand-written note
At a time when most written communication between friends is electronic, a hand-written note can really have an impact. It’s far more impressive than sending a stock greeting card, too. Wish your friend(s) a Happy Galentine’s Day and tell her, in writing, how much and why you value her friendship.
4) Send flowers
Unless she has severe allergies, it’s hard to find a woman who doesn’t love receiving flowers at her doorstep or desktop. If they arrive on Galentine’s Day, she’ll probably think that they are an early Valentine’s Day delivery. Flowers from a girlfriend are even more disarming than ones received from a guy.
5) Help other women
Dispel the myth that women are competitive and aren’t supportive of one another. Pay it forward and do something nice for your neighbor, the mom you met at the PTA meeting or a co-worker. You can offer to babysit, take on a special task or help out a sister in some other meaningful way. Or else reach out to a stranger by making a commitment to volunteer your time to help the less fortunate.
Because Galentine’s Day has few rituals attached to it, you can figure out a way to celebrate that reflects your own style and sensibilities.