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How To Celebrate Galentine’s Day

Ten years ago, this friend-focused holiday was born in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana. Today, it’s a real-life occasion for women to toast.

Galentine’s Day is a lady-pal lovefest. This annual festival of female friendship was launched on TV by Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler’s Parks and Recreation character, proud resident of the imaginary Indiana town of Pawnee. And the sunny Knope says it best: “Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. 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. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.”

The Hoosier-tinged holiday was created by a man. Parks and Rec co-creator and executive producer Michael Schur told The Wall Street Journal that the show’s writers dreamed up the idea for the second season after spitballing about how Knope would handle Valentine’s Day.

Knope’s man-less magic has caught on in the real world. The show’s first Galentine’s Day episode aired in 2010, with two more to come over the course of its seven-season run. By now, you can buy Galentine’s Day greeting cards at Walmart, and Party City’s shelves are stocked with friend-focused streamers and napkins. IUPUI communication-studies professor Kristy Sheeler thinks the idea has taken off in tandem with the notion that women don’t need male partners to be fulfilled. “Female friendships are incredibly important,” she says. “And a day to celebrate those friendships, even if surrounded by consumerism, is one step closer to the public acceptance such a day deserves.”

Indy has its Galentine’s Day mavens. Like Andrea Watts, a chief communications officer for the city—she’s been blowing out February 13 with her BFFs every year since 2013, from going to hear Michelle Obama speak in 2018 to a waffle-bar-and-rosé party last year. “Female friendships deserve to be celebrated just as much as any other relationship in women’s lives,” she says.

But you can also cozy up at home. Who says you can’t pound pink drinks in your living room? Leah Leach, president of the women’s-history nonprofit Gal’s Guide, has hosted a girlfriends-only game night at her Noblesville home for the past few years. Everyone makes galentine cards and goes head-to-head in games created by women.

No need to copy Knope’s sometimes-elaborate gifts. “My favorite tradition is giving my best gal pals a galentine,” Leach says. “Something that shows them I’m so thankful for having them in my life.”

Pink-drink partying has taken a political turn. Sheeler, who studies gender and political communication, says female candidates have drawn inspiration from a day devoted to sisterly solidarity—some have even launched campaigns on Galentine’s Day. The camaraderie-filled kickoffs combat media messaging that tends to pit women against each other.

Get crafty (or sip a craft drink). Ash & Elm Cider Co. is hosting its fourth annual cider-and-craft night for the holiday with crayons, Legos, and truffles galore. And Neat Mobile Nail Salon will serve a custom cocktail and screen a Galentine’s Day Parks and Rec episode during its own manicure-filled affair.

A boozy, brunch-for-dinner bonanza is also perfectly valid. Girls Pint Out, a national women’s craft-beer group that originated in Indy, has hosted a 21-and-up Galentine’s Day party at St. Joseph Brewery for the past few years, one that will rage on again this month. Last year’s sold-out soirée boasted a waffle bar, beer, galentine-making, and copious amounts of chocolate.

Secret ingredient: waffles. Cafe Patachou was a popular destination last February 13 for indulging in Knope’s favorite food. But wherever you go, do it up Parks and Rec–style and treat yo’self.

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