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How Galentine's Day Went From A Sitcom Hit To A Commercial Holiday

Feb 13, 2019
Originally published on February 14, 2019 9:29 am
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

So, Audie, happy Galentine's Day.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Happy Galentine's Day to you. Any plans with your gals - going to hit up any of the Galentine Day sales?

KELLY: I must confess I have not yet purchased all of my Galentine's Day greeting cards and party napkins and crafting supplies.

CORNISH: Yeah, I'm going to jump in here. OK, listeners, before you even have to ask...

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "PARKS AND RECREATION")

AMY POEHLER: (As Leslie Knope) What's Galentine's Day? 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.

CORNISH: That's Amy Poehler's character Leslie Knope on the NBC sitcom "Parks And Rec" all the way back in 2010.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "PARKS AND RECREATION")

POEHLER: (As Leslie Knope) If you look inside your bags, you will find a few things - a mosaic portrait of each of you made from the crushed bottles of your favorite diet soda and a personalized 5,000-word essay of why you're all so awesome.

KELLY: This is it, the moment where the whole idea of Galentine's Day began, a holiday about women showing love for their friends in crafty and creative ways.

AISHA MUHARRAR: We were trying to remember who originally came up with the idea, and we couldn't remember, which happens a lot in writers rooms. It's so collaborative.

CORNISH: Aisha Muharrar was one of the writers on "Parks And Rec" when the holiday was invented.

MUHARRAR: It's before Valentine's Day, so it's not like a consolation prize of, like, oh, did Valentine's Day not work out for you? It's more like, no, this is the main event, and then if there's something extra on the side, great.

KELLY: Now almost a decade later, Galentine's Day has fully left the realm of TV and entered capitalist reality.

ANNE MARIE CHAKER: Walmart has a Galentine's Day display. Hallmark now has, like, 16 Galentine's Day cards.

CORNISH: Anne Marie Chaker looked into the retail side of this for The Wall Street Journal. Restaurants are promoting Galentine's reservations. Florists are suggesting Galentine's bouquets. Chaker says one reason - Valentine's Day is on the outs.

CHAKER: Only half of Americans are planning to celebrate Valentine's Day this year. One retail analyst I talked to said that this could be the thing that could bolster sales 20 percent in the next three years. From a revenues perspective, you know, it's kind of brilliant.

MUHARRAR: Oh, that's so exciting.

KELLY: Exciting and pretty surreal for the TV writers like Aisha Muharrar who cooked this idea up.

MUHARRAR: It's interesting to see it grow beyond what we created. But it's also really cool that it's become its own thing. I mean, I think we can always count on corporations to make anything small and kind of special into some type of commodification of, like, what we could be doing better at (laughter).

CORNISH: OK, so bittersweet - something originally about crafting and brunching has gone commercial.

MUHARRAR: I feel like with every holiday, there's always some pressure. So I hope people are taking it easy on themselves. And, like, not everyone can be Leslie in terms of the Galentine's Day preparations. So set the bar a little lower for yourself.

KELLY: Way lower in my case. But, Audie, we can grab our craft center cards and toast our lady friends.

CORNISH: I appreciate that. And the rest of you don't worry too much about that big day tomorrow. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.