Image courtesy of Cosmopolitan Magazine
By Margaret Adams
When I was little my parents would always give my sisters and I a mini heart-shaped chocolate assortment, a card, and a stuffed animal of some kind for Valentine’s Day. I believed this holiday to celebrate love in all forms: familial love, sibling love, platonic love, and of course, romantic love. I was surprised to learn that Valentine’s Day, commercially and more widely, celebrates romantic love.
Why does Valentine’s Day have to be reserved for romantic love? Other relationships, like friendships and sibling relationships, are just as important. Also, romantic love dominating the holiday excludes everyone that is single. For these reasons, the holiday has gained a huge population of enemies, especially those who witness and are excluded from acts of romantic love on Valentine’s Day.
So when Galentine’s Day gained popularity in more recent years, I was excited to see women celebrating their female friends and promoting a culture of female support and empowerment.
The word “Galentine” is a pun used to refer to the day before Valentines Day, February 13. The holiday originated on the show Parks and Recreation.
Leslie Knope, played by Amy Poehler says, “Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. 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.”
Even though the episode aired almost ten years ago, the holiday only started to be celebrated by girl groups around the world within the past three years. The holiday is meant to be celebrated the day before Valentine’s Day to remind people that our girl friends come before our boyfriends. Women usually celebrate the holiday with their girlfriends by going out for brunch, exchanging gifts, or just spending time with each other.
Despite the positive message, some people believe that the holiday does more harm than good. Galentine’s Day has become extremely commercialized; companies like Target and Hallmark use the opportunity to profit off the celebration of sisterhood.
“It’s sort of impossible in America for anything to enter the culture and then not be commodified, you know?” said creator of “Parks and Recreation” Michael Schur. “But it also was odd to see it sort of warped a little bit and converted into this thing that’s being used by brands and websites and corporations in order to have a sale on whatever it is they’re hawking. Because obviously, that wasn’t the point of it.”
The commercial rise of the holiday leads many to believe that the holiday’s purpose is to keep single women from feeling lonely on the dreaded 14; some believe it is patronizing and promotes a generally sexist stereotype. This day tends to perpetuate the cycle of belief that if a woman is single, she is sad. The idea that a woman’s purpose in life is to find a male partner is not new and has been pushed onto girls since they were young. This day should be one of female camaraderie where friendship is celebrated, insead of profiting off of an old stereotype that women should always be in a relationship to be happy.
Despite this, gender stereotypes are not unchanging, according to a study done in 2019. Gender stereotypes have changed drastically, thanks to equal rights efforts and equality in the workplace.
Many people love the idea of having a separate space and time belonging to uplifting the women around us. In an age where women are reclaiming positions of power and finding support in our female companions, a holiday to commemorate that kind of love should be celebrated by everyone.
“I love the idea of Galentine’s It strengthens friendships and creates a safe space for women,” said sophomore Andrea Connelly-Vaquer. “It shows women that a significant other is not the only meaningful relationship in life.”
Whether you decide to boycott Galentine’s Day or celebrate it, it is important to express thankfulness for the women in your life everyday, not just one day a year. Working towards a future that fosters equality and justice starts within yourself. If that be brunch with the girls or a quick text to your mom, is up to you.