It’s the time of year when everything turns pink and red, and love is in the air. Valentine’s Day is usually considered a romantic holiday, but there’s no reason it can’t be about love more broadly. In fact, many people prefer to celebrate it that way!
One really sweet and meaningful way to celebrate this Valentine’s Day is to honor another kind of love: our friendships. In a good friendship, we genuinely love our friends and want what’s best for them. So it makes sense to include them in this celebration of all things love!
That’s the inspiration for Galentine’s Day, a day for women to celebrate our closest friends. Funnily enough, the holiday originated as a joke in an episode of Parks and Recreation. But it’s become a real-life holiday on February 13 that’s increasingly widely celebrated.
Whether you’re gleefully single, happily coupled, or somewhere in between, taking a day to recognize the importance of friendship can only help strengthen some of the most important relationships in our lives.
It’s easy to see why it caught on. Who doesn’t love a sweet excuse for a girls’ night out or ladies’ brunch?
There’s also something beautiful about celebrating our friends in this way. Friendship makes us better people and reflects a little of what our relationship with God should be like. And sharing love with the people who matter to us is always a good idea.
So if you want to celebrate Galentine’s Day this year, what should you do to plan? Aleteia spoke to several women who have celebrated the holiday for years. Here’s the full scoop.
How to celebrate Galentine’s Day
Lauren has celebrated Galentine’s Day for about 10 years, since the idea first appeared on Parks and Recreation. She found it the perfect way to keep in touch with her friends from high school when they went away to university. They came up with a darling idea: a “Secret Valentine,” modeled on “Secret Santa” gifts.
“For over 10 years now my high school girlfriends and I have celebrated Galentine’s with a ‘Secret Valentine’ gift exchange,” Lauren said.
Each year, the group of friends would draw names around Christmas time and then exchange gifts on Valentine’s weekend. The tradition is still going strong! The last few years, they’ve exchanged gifts through the mail.
“It’s so fun each year to draw a friend’s name and come up with new creative ways to shower her with love, whether through books of poetry, chocolate chip cookies, or a new yoga mat,” Lauren said. “I think the thing that I love most about our exchange is that it wipes away any feelings of disappointment that can come with Valentine’s Day. With the Galentine’s exchange, we are each showered with love.”
Now Lauren is excited to pass on the tradition to the next generation. This year, she’s hosting a Galentine’s tea party for her daughter and a few friends. “I hope the new tradition will bring my daughter and her friends the feeling of being loved and appreciated and of giving love to each other.”
Another mom, Michelle, has found that Galentine’s Day is especially meaningful as a military spouse living far away from family. “Especially here in Hawaii where most of us are far from our families, we have come to rely on our friends as our ‘island family,’” she explained.
She’s found a creative way for busy moms to celebrate their friendships: a potluck meal with kids included. She and her friends organize a Galentine’s/Valentine’s potluck brunch.
Everyone brings a dish to share, mimosas are served, and there’s a simple Valentine-making craft station and activities for the kids. The group-led approach is key to making it stress-free. “Try planning it together with a few friends so the burden isn’t all on one person,” she said.
Most of all, she said, just enjoy the celebration! “Don’t worry about making it fancy or elaborate, the fun is in enjoying our friendships and spending time together,” she said. “We also want to set an example for our kids and show them that it’s important to express appreciation for our friends!”
A focus on women’s friendship
Appreciating friends is also the reason that Anne loves celebrating Galentine’s Day. “It is so hard to find the time to celebrate some of the most important relationships in my life: my female friendships,” she said. “Parents get Mother’s and Father’s Day, romantic partners get Valentine’s Day, why should female friendships be any different?”
She’s instituted a pretty brilliant policy for Galentine’s Day: “We try our hardest to focus on our interests outside of the other sex: books we’ve read, movies we’ve seen, hikes we’ve been on.” Her inspiration was the famous Bechdel Test that found two female characters in cinema rarely discuss anything but a man.
Anne offered this list of tips for celebrating Galentine’s Day:
- Bring women from all of your different friend groups together and have a small activity, such as a candle white elephant gift exchange or Galentine’s Day trivia (Other ideas could include a clothing swap, a “favorite things party”… so many possibilities!)
- Make it informal but fun so everyone can interact and begin their own conversations outside of the activity
- Focus on what you like to do with your girl friends on a regular night and just lean in
- Wine and chocolate are always, always hits!
Amen to that. Here’s to celebrating our friends this Galentine’s Day and always!