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Valentine's Day is Friday, Feb. 14 — the day for hearts and flowers, candy hearts, love notes, date nights with slow dancing and other romantic gestures.

And arguably the most dreaded day of the year if you are a single female.

But an idea that began in the realm of television has become reality, an accepted alternative to Valentine's Day that grows each year: Galentine's Day, a celebration of female friendships on Feb. 13.

Galentine's Day is the day to gather your gal pals and celebrate your friendships, recognize their importance in your lives and strengthen those bonds.

Ironically, Galentine's Day was the idea of a guy.

NBC's "Parks and Recreation" had been on the air for a year when Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, show creators and executive producers, introduced Galentine's Day 10 years ago through Amy Poehler's character on the show, Leslie Knope.

"Every Feb. 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," she quipped.

The ways to celebrate Galentine's are limited only by your imagination — a dinner out or a weekend staycation. A bar crawl, wine-tasting party or dressy night on the town. A tea room visit, brunch, spa day, taking a class together, holding a theme party, a movie night or binge-watching a series.

And then there is retail therapy (shopping) — always good for the soul, especially when supporting a local female-owned business. Or take the squad to volunteer for a local nonprofit.

Biz Women Business Journal shows the fictional holiday has turned into big business for retailers since Leslie Knope launched the first one on "Parks and Recreation." It reports that Party City carried more than 50 Galentine's Day products in 2019 and Hallmark offered a line of Galentine's cards. Target and Walmart also stock Galentine's Day merchandise.

Franny Jackson, an associate life event specialist at Unum, is hosting a Galentine's Day party at her home next weekend for about 15 gal pals. They represent friendships from high school at Notre Dame to colleagues at work.

"There is a dress theme: Wear what you were obsessed with as a preteen. I work with women of different ages from their 20s to late 30s," Jackson says of choosing a theme applicable to all ages that will make a great icebreaker.

She says party plans call for "making margaritas and sangria, getting pizza, making candy bracelets, playing cards and watching chick-flick movies.

"It's going to be pretty chill," Jackson says. But, she adds, this bonding time is important to her.

"Sisterhood, the bond between my female friends and I, is important. I like to celebrate that."

A Greek sorority at UTC is hosting a Galentine's party Thursday night to strengthen common bonds between the Greek and non-Greek systems.

Alpha Delta Pi sorority is hosting 20 members of Sigma Phi Lambda, a non-Panhellenic Christian sorority, for a get-to-know-you mixer. UTC's Panhellenic adviser has also been invited.

"It's the first time we've done a Galentine's event," says Lewis Aspen, ADPi vice president of membership experience, who is organizing the party.

"We're going to have a chocolate fondue fountain, a photo wall, make some crafts and show a romcom movie. I thought it would be a good way for our sisterhoods to relax and have fun with each other."

Linda Shriver-Buckner, sales specialist at Hickory Valley Retirement Community, already held a Galentine's Party on Feb. 4.

"The year my husband passed away, my girlfriends threw me a Valentine's party because they didn't want me to be alone that day. The next year, I threw them one as a thank-you. Four years ago we started Galentine's Day."

Originally starting with about 15 friends, it has grown to 26 who attended this year at Firebirds restaurant. The party has also grown over the years so it now includes swag bags and guests have the option to bring a cute gift for "Dirty Cupid," their spin on the Christmas gift-exchange Dirty Santa.

"Our only prerequisite is positivity," says Shriver-Buckner. "I see so many lonely people, and I love to see people connecting. I just like connecting people and having them feel included.

"We all need friends. We rise by lifting others," she says.

You may have noticed the rise in Galentine's Day events happening around the region. Below is a roundup of several.

So raise a glass — or a paint brush — with your friends.

 

GALENTINE'S DAY EVENTS ON FEB. 13

BlackGirl Chatt Galentine's Card-Making Social

* Where: The Chattery, 1800 Rossville Ave.

* When: 6 p.m. Thursday

* Tickets: $5 suggested donation

* For more information: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/blackgirlchatt-galentines-card-making-social-tickets-89153786375

In addition to making cards for loved ones and friends, participants at this girlfriend get-together will make cards to brighten the lives of clients at Sharon's Senior Services.

Wine and card supplies will be provided.

 

Galentine's Day Painting with a Twist

* Where: Paint and Sip Studio, 1309 Panorama Drive, No. 111

* When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday

* Fee: $37 for 16-inch by 20-inch canvas, $45 for wood-framed, 26-inch by 20-inch canvas

* Reservations: https://www.paintingwithatwist.com/studio/chattanooga/event/2315389/

Let your inner artist loose to paint "Lucid Lake," a night landscape depicting a full moon rising over a mountain range and lake.

Bring your own beverage and snacks (must be 21 or older with valid ID to drink); the company reserves the right to phone a cab/uber at the customer's expense if needed.

 

Galentine's Day CSAS Give-Back Night

* Where: Flying Squirrel, 55 Johnson St.

* When: 5-11 p.m. Thursday

* Tickets: Free, your meal expense additional

* For more information: 423-602-5980

Gather your squad for a girls night out and support public education at the same time. Join Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences' moms for this give-back night.

 

Galentine's Day at Wine Down

* Where: Wine Down Ooltewah, 9431 Bradmore Lane

* When: 5-10 p.m. Thursday

* Price: Your meal expense

* For more information: 423-531-9463

Round up your BFFs to celebrate friendship at this popular Cambridge Square restaurant.

Wine Down will offer half-price bottles of wine (excluding happy hour and reserve wine) and your choice of a complimentary mini cheese board or dessert with purchase (one per table). Reservations are not required.

 

Galentine's Day Event

* Where: Sage Banty Boutique, 3725 Cleveland Ave., Cleveland, Tenn.

* When: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday

* Tickets: $15

* Reservations: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/galentines-day-event-tickets-88500006903

Join the boutique's staff for wine-glass painting along with a wine and chocolate pairing.

 

Galentine's Painting Class

* Where: The Paint Cup, 4675 North Lee Highway, Cleveland, Tenn.

* When: 7-9 p.m. Thursday

* Tickets: $25

* For more information: www.thepaintcup.com

Bring wine, bring friends and be creative at this paint-and-sip party to create a tree with heart-shaped foliage.

 

Girls Night Out

* Where: Mammie Carlotta's inside Chattanooga Mercantile, 6725 Ringgold Road

* When: 6-9 p.m. Thursday

* Price: Regular dinner menu

* Reservations: 423-269-7869

Time with friends is time well-spent — especially when dinner and shopping is involved!

Mammie Carlotta's is hosting its first Galentine's Dinner, extending its normal hours to serve dinner for a girls night with shopping in the mercantile. In addition to the regular menu, the tea room will offer special discounts and a couple of surprises.

 

Valentine Friendship Tea

* Where: Polly Claire's Tea Room

* When: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. lunch or 6-8:30 p.m. dinner Thursday

* Tickets: $32 per person

* For reservations: 423-521-4832

Grab your favorite people and celebrate your friendship at the tea room's annual Valentine Friendship Tea — a beautiful three-tier tray with four courses.

The spread includes family-recipe vanilla bean scones with cream, jam and curd, appetizers, tasty sandwiches and chocolate desserts.

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

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