For those of you who love the American sit-com Parks and Recreation, you’ll probably know that the show’s main character Leslie Knope started a trend when she gathered her friends on the day before Valentine’s Day for a brunch of waffles and love. “Every February 13, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast style,” she explained in the episode. “Ladies celebrating ladies.”
‘Galentine's Day’, as the episode was titled, became a thing.
And it’s rather a nice thing.
The day after, Valentine’s Day, can also be a nice thing, but it can also be a day of disappointment at best and fear at worst. Listening to the women in our Survivors’ Network, it’s clear that in the past the build-up to the 14th of February brought pressure to get it right, to dress right, to perform right and to go above and beyond to keep partners happy. Aisles full of red cards, hearts and boxes of chocolates are triggering for some, bringing back memories of days that were anything but romantic.
Aisles full of red cards, hearts and boxes of chocolates are triggering for some, bringing back memories of days that were anything but romantic.
But I also hear stories of those who have seen the cards and the teddy bears and the twee messages, and felt a sense of liberation because this is no longer their story; they’ve turned the page and no longer live in fear. This year, Valentine’s day will be different.
So maybe this February let’s throw tradition out of the window and redeem this short season. You may like to go all out and celebrate Galentine’s day with your friends, but if that’s a bit beyond your capacity right now, just celebrate those who bring you joy, who have cared for and nurtured you whoever they are. Friends, family, ourselves.
So maybe this February let’s throw tradition out of the window and redeem this short season.
We live in a world which has sexualised and romanticised this day, mostly to make money, but why not subvert that by taking the opportunity to show those we love that they are appreciated - not because we have to, but because we want to?
Love your kids
My children are grown up now, but when they lived at home, I used to leave chocolate hearts on the table for them at breakfast on Valentine’s Day, just because I could.
Love your friends
Write short notes or texts to friends or colleagues to let them know you’re thinking of them and that you love them.
Go full Galentines
My daughter, fed up with never receiving a ‘real’ Valentine’s gift or card, collaborated with her friends at school to do the equivalent of Secret Santa: they each bought another a bag of treats, and together they all got a takeaway and watched a movie in a celebration of each other.
Maybe what you really need is a little bit of self-love. An indulgent bubble bath, a good book, a glass of wine or simply an early night. Put yourself first for the day and treat yourself.