Galentine’s Day Gains Steam in NJ as Many Struggle With Friendships

The celebration, which honors female friendship, is observed on or around February 13.

A collage illustration including female friends, popcorn, Champagne and candy hearts.
Illustration by Katy Lemay

When Parks and Recreation character Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) started Galentine’s Day as a way to celebrate female friendship, who knew that the made-for-TV holiday would turn into an occasion people would actually celebrate in real life?

Now, annual events for Galentine’s Day, which is celebrated on or around February 13 (the day before Valentine’s Day), are becoming increasingly popular as women are finding new ways to celebrate friendship during a month that traditionally honors romantic love.

The time to bond with pals has become even more important in the current climate as the pandemic has made it harder for many women to make and keep friends, friendship coach Danielle Bayard Jackson tells New Jersey Monthly. “I don’t think we do a good enough job of talking about friendship from a wellness perspective,” she says. “It’s not just about finding girls to go to brunch with.”

Galentine’s Day is a chance to spend time with friends old and new. Celebrations range from painting parties with wine and chocolate, to special dinners or drinks out with pals, to jewelry-making events. During the pandemic, Zoom get-togethers have been added to the mix.

[RELATEDFun Things To Do in NJ in February]

This February 13, the Eclectic Chic Boutique in Montclair plans to host a virtual Paint & Sip wine event, after successfully throwing a virtual jewelry-making party for Galentine’s Day last year.

The shop’s owner, Kristen Zachares, says she has seen a variety of people—singles and couples of all genders and sexualities—attend her past Galentine’s Day events as a way to spend time with current friends, to meet new people in their community, and to learn a fun, new craft. “The roots of Galentine’s Day are more woman-centric, but I think Valentine’s Day is becoming less of a heterosexual couple’s holiday and is now becoming more open,” Zachares says. “You have people celebrating friendships and families.”

Another local event to attend this Galentine’s Day is the Brick Kiwanis Club’s painting-and-drinking fundraiser, which is expected to take place in-person on February 12 at Pinot’s Palette in Brick. Proceeds will help raise scholarship funds for high school students in two Ocean County towns: Brick and Point Pleasant.

At Tomasello Winery in Lambertville, wine and chocolates aren’t just for romance. The venue is hosting a Galentine’s Day wine-and-chocolate tasting ($15.50/person), which includes five wines with two gourmet chocolate truffles, on February 11. Reservations are required.

Research shows that the number one factor that determines our overall well-being and life satisfaction is the quality of our relationships. While some women found that stay-at-home orders helped them decide which close friendships to nourish, others felt they were lacking friends or were not satisfied with their relationships, Bayard Jackson says.

For people looking to make new friends, Lil Corcoran, executive director of the Women’s Rights Information Center in Englewood, says it’s key to first turn inward. “If you want to have good-quality relationships with others, which is critical for good living, it has to start with yourself,” she says.

Bayard Jacksons says it’s important to remember that you can form new friendships every day, reminding us: “It’s never too late.”

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