How Galentine’s Day became serious business

Galentine’s Day started as a sitcom gag nine years ago but is now serious business, writes Deirdre Reynolds.

Happy Galentine’s Day, ladies!

Or to put it more simply: Give me some chocolate and nobody gets hurt.

Today marks the ninth annual international day of celebration of female friendship.

For those of us not exactly bracing for a tsunami of cards and gifts tomorrow, however, it’s fast becoming an international day of consolation too.

Observed each February 13, the unofficial holiday first started out as a gag on hit US TV show Parks & Recreation back in 2010.

Almost a decade on, however, Galentine’s Day has become a serious business.

Girly cards, flowers and chocolates are just some of traditional tokens of love already being targeted at “ladies celebrating ladies” just like Amy Poehler’s Golden Globe-winning comedy.

Last week, Dealz became the latest high street store to encourage female shoppers to put sisters before misters after launching a range of Galentine’s Day gifts, including a ‘Fave Babe’ mug and Bumble-BAE teddy bear.

“With February 14 generally focused on couples, Galentine’s Day is something every gal can get behind,” the store gushed — before urging lady customers to “celebrate the ‘glorious female goddesses’ in your life” with a €1.50 ceramic or cuddly toy.

As one of Ireland’s growing army of 1.2 million single women, it’s tempting to rubbish the day as a cheap marketing stunt, at best, and an attempt to cash in on single women’s loneliness on the most coupled-up day of the year, at worst.

Speaking to us from New York though, one leading relationship expert explained why she’s not against the rising trend for girl-on-girl gifting in principle.

“Female friendships are vitally important to our emotional well-being,” tells Susan Winter, the best-selling author of Breakup Triage: The Cure for Heartache. “It’s our female friends who are the constant in our lives, as they’re by our side through the ups and downs of our love life, career life, and personal life.

Galentine’s Day serves as a reminder to always value and nurture those partnerships, never allowing them to wane due to career, dating, or family issues.

“My profession deals with helping my clients establish and keep meaningful romantic partnerships; as such, conversations about their friends rarely come up in our sessions. However, I do encourage my single female clients to plan something fun for themselves on Valentine’s Day.” Wine-tasting events, sing-a-long movie screenings, and trash your ex parties are among nationwide events taking place this ‘Palentine’s Day’, as it’s also dubbed.

In Galway, for instance, Hyde Bar are hosting a special Galentine’s Day wine pairing event tonight. Elsewhere at Opium in Dublin, there’s a timely screening of 10 Things I Hate About You for those who aren’t feeling the Valentine’s buzz tomorrow. While on Friday, The Rocky Horror Picture Show anti-Valentine’s event at The Sugar Club on Friday night is ‘no pants and no partners necessary’.

Pants but no partner, I’ll be keeping it traditional by showering my best wing women with flowers, something that’s catching on according to one flower shop in the capital.

“There’s definitely a growth in female gifting,” says Fionnuala McAuley, creative director of Scarecrow Flowers in Sandymount.

“It’s only come about in the last three years really.

“The market’s definitely changing, so people aren’t as inclined to spend the big money on the roses as they were. Certainly for the likes of Galentine’s Day, the spend would be much lower. I would expect a man to spend in and around €100-€120, and then a woman buying for a woman would be around about €30.

“For a man, he’ll come in and he’ll naturally look for the red roses, and if his wife doesn’t like the red roses, then he’ll go for the biggest bouquet that’s on the shop floor. Women will pick up much smaller flowers like freesia in a softer tone like white and baby pink — it’s dainty more so than it is a big bloom.

“It would only equate to a maximum of about 20% of business, but it’s lovely to see. It’s lovely just for women to be empowering women.”

For the newly footloose, one American wildlife sanctuary is giving singles the chance to name a cockroach after their ex this Galentine’s Day, with the $2 fee going towards conservation work.

If that’s not low enough for you, for $1, you can name a snake in their dishonour instead in a fundraising initiative being run by an Australian zoo.

Naturally, I wouldn’t be that petty — so will be sticking to The Liquor Room’s annual Shrex Your Ex event on Friday night instead.

“It started in 2017 and was really successful so just decided to keep doing it,” explains event manager Beibhinn O’Reilly of the night, which sees party-goers exchange dating disaster stories while getting down to ditties such as Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank U, Next’. “We’d done all the lovey dovey Valentine’s Day stuff, and everywhere seemed to be doing all that kind of stuff, so I wanted to do something different.

“Some people bring a picture of their ex to shred or use as a coaster. One girl who came in said it actually really helped her. There’s also a dumpster swap shop where you can bring stuff that your ex has given you — jumpers, jewellery, teddy bears — and swap it with other people.

“There have been a few tears over the years,” she admits, “but the focus is on having the craic. It’s not like anyone just comes by themselves — everyone’s in groups of mates.

“If all else fails, our bartenders are always on hand to make them laugh and maybe give them another drink!”

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