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February 13th is Galentine’s Day, a day dedicated to gal pals. Some tips on how to make the most of this day with your girlfriends.
One of the truly memorable things about my college days were the moments I had with my best girls. The whispering and passing notes to each other during lectures, the inside jokes, the hours long phone conversations, hanging out doing ‘nothing’, helping each other study, sleepovers. Those were truly some of the best times of my life.
The truth is that platonic female friendships are often as intense, and as precious as our romantic relationships.
Yet, they are one of the first casualties of ‘life’. Between work, children, household chores, and other commitments, women often lose touch with their girlfriends or at the very least, the frequency of their interaction drops. Soon, one’s husband’s friends become one’s own, and the friends of our childhood or young adulthood, become Facebook friends or members in a Whatsapp group, whom we ping occasionally. In fact, our generation is lucky to at least have social media to help us stay connected. For many in the previous generations, such friendships are just fond memories.
Even pop-culture largely ignores the beauty of female friendships. Where the men have their Jai-Veeru-yeh dosti hum nahi todenge, Dil Chahta Hai, or Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara bromances, one is hard pressed to come up with the names of movies which unapologetically celebrate women and their friendships.
This is why I was elated when I came to know recently about Galentine’s Day, which is celebrated on February 13th and which is all about women celebrating their friendships. Isn’t that super cool?
It began on the American sitcom Parks and Recreation in 2010 as a holiday instituted by the character Leslie Knope, played by the eminently funny Amy Poehler. To quote her, “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.”
This fictional holiday however, tapped into a real need for women to connect with each other, and over the past few years it has snowballed into a phenomenon.
In fact, it has been “Hallmarkified” already, and a search for #GalentinesDay on Twitter or Facebook throws up hundreds of results.
So, how is it celebrated? Let me count the ways!
Food is awesome, and not just because it’s the way to a man’s heart. Women are foodies too, and Galentine’s Day is a great occasion to treat yourself and your friends. The way Leslie Knope does it is to have brunch with her gals — pigging out on breakfast foods like waffles. But if brunch doesn’t work for you, you can always have lunch or dinner, or even better, just get beer and laugh out loud, wink,wink. If going out isn’t your thing, host a potluck party.
Be it at a club, or within the privacy of your house, turn up the music and groove! Nothing gets the endorphin flowing like an ‘out-of-control- dance-till-you-drop’ session with your bestie.
Take a spa day and relax with your closest friends over a massage. Or, organize a “spa party” where you give each other manicures/pedicures, paint each other’s nails, apply mehendi for each other or give each other a makeover. It’ll be fun!
Make a shopping trip or take a long drive. Or if you’re more intellectually inclined, go to a museum or art gallery. Do something adventurous, if that’s what you’re in the mood for. Just spend some quality time together, out of doors.
One of my favourite things to do with my girl friends in college was to watch a movie and then over analyze it to death! Pick a ‘girl power’ movie and watch it together. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants or Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood are good options if Hollywood is what you like. Closer home, there are movies like Angry Indian Goddesses or Lipstick Under My Burkha which are about women standing in solidarity with each other.
Magalir Mattum (Ladies Only) is a 2017 Tamil movie, featuring Jyothika as a documentary film-maker who helps her mother-in-law (Urvashi) reconnect with her school friends (Saranya, Bhanupriya), and takes them on a road trip. It is a wonderful movie to watch with a friend who knows Tamil, or with subtitles if you don’t have Tamil-speaking friends. Or, if it is a web-series you would prefer to watch, then binge on Ladies Room by Y Films.
Form your own little book club and pick up a great book to read. One of the books that my friends and I bonded over in college, was Shashi Deshpande’s The Binding Vine, in which female relationships play a big role. Other good choices are Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, or Unbound 2,000 Years of Indian Women’s Writing, an anthology compiled by Annie Zaidi, or this list on sisterhood books right here. There is no dearth of books in which women and their connections to each other are explored. Here is a good list by Book Riot. Of course, there are a lot of great, short reads here at Women’s Web and you can always pick up a copy of When Women Speak up!
Surprise your friend with a thoughtful gift — maybe offer to babysit her kids for a while so she can take a break, send her a bouquet, or just give her the gift of a non-judgmental, listening presence. I am glad that I have friends who take the effort to stay in touch with me. Just knowing that they are a part of my life is a blessing, and I do not take them for granted.
Unfortunately for me, I am a long way away from all my best girls. Time-zones and varying schedules make it extra difficult for us to stay connected, and this is the case with many friendships today. Plan a Skype call or a Whatsapp video call. Or send them a video of you reading out a poem for them. Write a long, sappy Facebook post and tag them. Leave them an extra-special text message. Just let them know that you miss them.
Are there any friends you’ve fallen out of touch with, but with whom you would like to reconnect? Try and get a hold of their contact numbers or find them on social media and say ‘Hi!”
Take the opportunity to be more inclusive. Spread the love to those who are usually left out of the discussions of feminism – such as women from more disadvantaged sections of society and transwomen. You could seek out and volunteer with or donate to an NGO who works with them, or it could be an action as simple as giving your maid the day off or giving her a gift. Do what you can to let them know that you’re thinking of them too.
Galentine’s Day may become just another commercialized holiday, but we must always celebrate our friendships.
Friendships sustain us when the going gets tough. In a world that mistakenly propagates the idea that a “woman’s worst enemy is another woman,” the importance of female friendships cannot be underestimated. Women today are speaking up louder and more frequently about the injustices meted out to them, and female solidarity has become the need of the hour. As Leslie Knope said, “Uteruses before duderuses,” and “Ovaries before brovaries.”
Happy Galentine’s Day to all the women reading this! I wish you health, happiness, and success!
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