Galentine's Day: Celebrating Women, Waffles And, OK, More Waffles

Remember when 1992 was the Year of the Woman? Yeah, that was a thing, although ever-intrepid Sen. Barbara Mikulski shrugged it off at the time, saying, "Calling 1992 the Year of the Woman makes it sound like the Year of the Caribou or the Year of the Asparagus. We're not a fad, a fancy, or a year."

With the women's march prompting some to ask whether 2017 will be the "next year of the woman," Monday's the day to celebrate the best unofficial holiday made just for women: Galentine's Day.

What's Galentine's Day, you ask? It's only the greatest gift we've ever gotten from Leslie Knope, the unfailingly earnest bureaucrat at the helm of the NBC series Parks and Recreation, describing it thus during Season 2: "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. It's like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas."

Knope may have highlighted frittatas, but any fan of the show knows that waffles are her true love, making waffles our top choice to anchor any Galentine's Day meal. It also can't be a coincidence that a Swedish holiday known as Våffeldagen (Waffle Day) just happens to fall on Vårfrudagen (Our Lady's Day) — clearly, women and waffles were meant to be celebrated together.

Text your gal pals now and get ready for the perfect Galentine's Day celebration Monday night. Here's how.
  • With 24 hours notice, you'll easily be able to plan a bang-up besties bash, but, if you don't start planning your evening until a scant few hours before, simply heed this sage advice from Knope: "We need to remember what's important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn't matter, but work is third." Consider today a practice for the proposed Women's Strike, but with a promise of waffles and mimosas at the end of the day.
  • Diners, like J.J.'s Diner on Parks and Recreation, are an excellent place for any Galentine's Day gathering, being sure to remember that breakfast needs to be served all day and world-famous waffles better be on the menu. Don't be afraid to order a lot of waffles: Someone actually calculated that Knope consumes up to 343 waffles per year, so you may have some catching up to do.
  • If you're celebrating at home, you're in luck, because we live in a time when pretty much anything seems to taste better when it has been shoved into a waffle iron, from hash browns to pizza, as over 1 million YouTube videos can attest. You could start, of course, with a more traditional Knope-approved waffle, topped off with copious amounts of whipped cream, but invite your girlfriends to bring over random leftovers to waffle as a hands-on activity, preferably before you've consumed too many mimosas.
  • There's no shortage of weird and wonderful waffle recipes to be found around the world, if you're looking for inspiration beyond the traditional Belgian variety. In Thailand, there's the waffle hot dog, served with mayo and ketchup, while the Irish love their savory potato waffles so much that apparently, Irish immigrants Down Under staged a successful campaign to get the Bird's Eye frozen variety sold in Australia. Hong Kong's egg waffles, a popular street food cooked over a charcoal stove, in flavors from green tea to ube, even got a nod from the Michelin guide in 2015.
  • Salad is a no-no. In fact, Leslie Knope is clear in her stance on salads, and vegetables in general: "I stand behind my decision to avoid salad, and other disgusting things, and I think I have a lot of support in the community for that." Galentine's Day is not the day for diets, temperance, or under-indulging. Waffles. More waffles.
  • Champagne is a must, if only because it figured prominently on the Parks and Rec pilot episode in which Knope's co-worker Tom says, ""Every now and then, we have these little gatherings, and Leslie gets plastered." Plus, it's brunch for dinner, making mimosas mandatory. Don't forget that Knope's Midwestern values mean that she would never let a friend drive home drunk, and she'd also show up at work the next day, no matter how bad the hangover.
  • While eating waffles and drinking fizzy cocktails, celebrate the women in your life, Knope-style, by sharing with each one in attendance why you treasure her friendship. Of course, if you really want to do it properly, you'll provide a 5,000-word personalized essay for each person, along with a mosaic portrait made from the glass bottle of her favorite diet soda. But a heartfelt haiku will also do in a pinch. Try using Knope's poetic description of her best friend as a jumping-off point: "Oh, Ann, you beautiful, rule-breaking moth."
As Knope would say, "I am a goddess, a glorious female warrior." Or, alternatively, "Uteruses before duderuses. Ovaries before brovaries." Until Galentine's Day is finally declared a national holiday, let's just call this the Year of the Waffle.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda Has the Perfect Playlist for Your Galentine's Day Party

As made famous by Parks and Recreation’s leading lady Leslie Knope, Feb. 13 -- or Galentine’s Day -- is a day to forget about boyfriends, husbands and lovers and honor the people who truly matter: your girlfriends.

As Knope so charmingly enlightened those unfamiliar to the holiday, it’s a day for “ladies celebrating ladies.”

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda joined in on the Galentine's Day fun by making the perfect playlist to accompany the festivities. He tweeted a Spotify mix he created on Monday filled with girl-power jams. With empowering Destiny's Child, Queen Latifah and Florence + the Machine tunes, mixed with the soothing tones of Ingrid Michaelson and Ashley Tisdale, the playlist gives the perfect songs to happily listen to with girlfriends.

So while you pop open the rosé and indulge on brunch favorites, enjoy the playlist below dedicated to music’s most prominent women.


Galentine's Day: How a Beloved Fiction Became a Beloved Tradition

It started as fiction. In a 2010 episode of Parks and Recreation, Leslie, creative and crafty and bursting with kindness for the people she loves, invented a way to do something American culture hadn’t traditionally been too good at doing: celebrating, in an official capacity, the joys of female friendship. Leslie set Galentine’s Day as a festival that would fall, each year, on February 13: Valentine’s Day-eve. And she decided that the festivities—though the real point of it all is simply to celebrate the platonic love that exists among ladyfriends—should take the form of the thing that has brought women together for decades: a long and boozy brunch.

As Leslie explained it: “Every February 13, my ladyfriends 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.”

Galentine’s Day was, in its initial conception, the character of Leslie Knope, fictional woman, realized in micro-holiday form: insistently earnest, aggressively generous, finding deeply canny methods of ensuring that every social occasion will involve the consuming of waffles.

But Galentine’s Day soon became popular among real-life women, too. The festival, after all, filled a need. It found a market. Like Friendsgiving before it, which was similarly coddled in the crucible of the sitcom, Galentine’s Day acknowledged a broad truth about American life as it’s lived in the early 21st century: Friendships, increasingly, are playing an organizing role in society. Long conceived as side dishes to the main feast—marriage, kids, the nuclear family above all—friendships, more and more, are helping to define people’s sense of themselves in the world. During a time of emergent adulthood and geographic mobility, friendships are lending stability—and meaning—to people’s, and especially young people’s, lives. The deepest friendships are operating not to replace the family unit, certainly, but to complement it.

With Galentine’s Day, Leslie Knope, fan of waffles and Ben Wyatt and Ann Perkins (though definitely not in that order), took all that cultural context and distilled it down into a holiday that, like Friendsgiving and Slapsgiving and Festivus before it, resonated far beyond its fictional world.

It caught on so well that, today, Galentine’s Day is a fairly standard celebration. No longer simply a micro-holiday, in the blink-and-you-miss-it manner of National Pizza Day or International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Leslie Knope’s lark is widely recognized and celebrated in places that are decidedly far from Pawnee, Indiana. Craft breweries have Galentine’s Day parties featuring crafts, beers, and—in a sweet hat-tip to the originator of the holiday—waffles. St. Martin’s press has a new book out for the occasion, BE MY GALENTINE: Celebrating Badass Female Friendship. Mashable recently listed “13 perfect Galentine’s Day gifts for your forever friends.” NPR offered a series of tips about how one might throw one’s own Galentine’s Day party. (The final piece of advice: “While eating waffles and drinking fizzy cocktails, celebrate the women in your life, Knope-style, by sharing with each one in attendance why you treasure her friendship.”)

Galentine’s Day has indeed become so well established that, last week, it earned itself that ultimate mark of cultural affirmation: a think piece, attempting to condemn its entire existence, in the New York Post. (“Ironically,” the story scoffed, “Feb. 13 has long been considered ‘Mistress Day,’ when unfaithful men take out their side chicks, leaving Feb. 14 for wives and girlfriends. Hope no one has any scheduling conflicts.”)

Perhaps the best measure of Galentine’s Day’s staying power, though? The fact that it is being used—as every great American holiday will be, in the end—to sell stuff. The most common criticism of Valentine’s Day, of course, is that it’s a Hallmark holiday. The day conflates romantic love with the plasticine detritus of that affection: expensive flowers, cheekily presented chocolates, chintzy stuffed animals.

So, too, Galentine’s Day, which has been, at this point, thoroughly Hallmarked. #GalentinesDay hashtags have been rampant on Twitter and Instagram in the days preceding February 13, directing people to lady-themed goods on websites and in stores. The site surfandsunshine has a blog post listing 9 Gift Ideas for Galentine’s Day; items for sale include a Ruth Bader Ginsburg mug, a Marie Curie doll, and—hey, Galentines, it’s not too late to buy me my present—a tote bag that dispenses wine.

Galentine’s Day lives on far beyond social media, though. Target’s site has a dedicated section; as the page’s curators explain, “We love celebrating with our friends (hi, Friendsgiving Edition!), so Galentine’s Day is right up our alley. Inspired by one of our favorite shows, we’re ready to help you and your ladyfriends kick it,Target Finds-style.” The merchandise selected includes some cheeky nods to Parks and Rec—a heart-shaped waffle iron, a milk-frother that could ostensibly be used to make whipped cream—and it is all sold under a beatific image of Leslie and her fellow Pawneeans, surrounded by a semicircle of pink hearts. The image features another message, this one declaring, “our gal-spiration: Parks & Recreation Season 2.” (Click on the image, and you will be led to Target’s sales page for the Parks and Recreation Season 2 DVD set, available for $24.99.)

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