Valentine’s Day; the Marmite occasion of the year. Love it or hate it, by the time mid-Feb has arrived, we can’t keep away. We become defenceless as we’re inundated with exclusive offers, restaurant specials and the abundance of pink-tinted tipples. Although the Beatles once told us, ‘All You Need Is Love’, try telling that to your overdraft once you’ve splurged your savings on extortionately priced Valentine’s gimmicks.
The traditions of Valentine’s Day are thought to be linked with the pre-Christian fertility festival of Lupercalia. This involved skinning sacrificial animals, and whipping women with the blood-soaked skins. Fast forward to the third century; St. Valentine of Rome was martyred for wedding Roman soldiers who were forbidden to marry. Before execution on 14th February, St. Valentine signed a letter to the jailer’s daughter (whom he befriended) with the infamous words ‘from your Valentine’. Centuries later, this became a slogan that Hallmark carried forward to the development of the original Valentine’s card in 1913.
“ What’s Galentine’s Day? It’s only the best day of the year. ”
Yet, alternative trends are on the rise; Galentine’s Day, celebrated the day prior to Valentine’s, was coined in 2010 by character Leslie Knope in the comedy series, Parks and Recreation. “Ladies celebrating ladies” is the infamous line which gave birth to the pop-culture phenomenon which is dedicated to empowering friendships, appreciating others and celebrating women. Galentine’s represents an opportunity to recognise love for those without a romantic partner, particularly poignant for those lonely. Valentine romances may come and go, but true friendships remain unwaveringly.
Galentine’s is an appreciation of love, but one that celebrates strong friendships, despite differences in romantic relationship statuses. This strikes remarkable similarities to the original sentiment of St. Valentine. It isn’t about glorifying single life, nor anti-Valentine’s, it merely mirrors the fundamental values of Valentine’s, with minimal tat.
It’s true that as a nation, we have fallen hard to the prey of the marketing appeal of Valentine’s Day, and figures from 2018 state that UK expenditure soared above the £650million mark (up 29% on 2015). However you choose to celebrate, love, in all its guises, is a positive thing and deserves to be commended. Whether it’s through flowers, a prosecco party with your ‘gals’ or sharing an M&S heart shaped sausage – celebrate love.