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Everyone with a labia, real or spiritual, knows that Galentine's Day is when women unite to celebrate one another as indispensable individuals and best, best friends. While Saint Valentine, Galentine's better-known male counterpart, is the patron saint of love, happy marriages, betrothed couples, beekeeping, and epilepsy, Saint Galentine is the heavenly protector of female friendship, nonaggressive gossip, smashing the patriarchy, and rosé drinkers.
But do you know the very true, 100% not fabricated tale of Galentine herself?
I, a mere Galentine acolyte, am not worthy to tell it; instead I have transcribed the story precisely as it appears on a dusty 1980s prayer card that I came across while thumbing through my husband's Catholic school yearbook. Photos of my husband as a wee boy in suspenders and knee socks are cute, but she's the real treasure.
Saint Galentine is a third-century Roman saint who first popularized the expression "female friendship before romantic infatuation with potential and current sexual partners." Though little is known of her family life or schooling, ancient writings reveal that Galentine worked in the Coliseum as a tiger wrangler, and couldn't climb the corporate ladder to save her life.
Frustrated by her experience with the Coliseum's glass ceiling — and doubly frustrated by the need to explain to her male contemporaries that the ceiling in question was a metaphor and of course she understood that the Coliseum was meant to be an open-air structure — Galentine resigned from her post.
In pursuit of peace, she opened a tea shop. Feeling suffocated by the inequity among the sexes, and flummoxed by the ineptitude of men who deemed themselves geniuses despite their obvious mediocrity, Galentine implemented one rule for her tea shop: no boys allowed.
Many falsely believe that Galentine was unlucky in love, and took out undue anger against the opposite sex. However, the opposite holds true. It was at her women's only "tea parties," as they came to be known, that Galentine grew to appreciate men's hunkiness thanks to her roundtable discussions called "Calidum aut Non?" which roughly translates to "Hots or Nots?" in English.
Galentine issued a public edict: 'Nolo non scrub,' which roughly translates to "I don't want no scrub."
Still, Galentine discovered that many of her new friends were pushed around, ignored, and/or annoyed by callous, insensitive men, particularly those standing in the way of their professional success, or by men they sought in romantic partnership. "While love is all well and good, and necessary for both the proliferation and happiness of our species," wrote Galentine in 269 AD, "It's also critical to seek camaraderie with like-minded, fun-loving, loyal individuals. Also, it's good to talk this stuff out."
Galentine was what she called "an experiential inventor," and was the first to introduce the spontaneous dance party to a social gathering. The revelation came when Galentine, moved by a lute player's whimsical tune, climbed atop a table in her shop, and improvised a movement-to-melody — not with a man, but with herself. Soon women began swaying and gyrating whenever they "felt the music," too.
News of Galentine's experiential invention spread across Rome, and for the crime of mirth without a man, Galentine was arrested. Prison far from dissuaded her from the cause of promoting female friendship. Disgusted by the abhorrent way many prison guards spoke to her about her physical appearance, Galentine issued a public edict: "Nolo non scrub," which roughly translates to "I don't want no scrub" in English.
Following her release from prison, Galentine amassed a squadron of fierce female friends to help her spread tea parties throughout the Roman Empire. Soon women from Mt. Vesuvius to Brittania were dancing on abacuses, belting out their favorite odes, and declaring that they didn't need men to feel complete.
It was at this time that Galentine proclaimed that a little nip of chilled sparkling wine before noon is perfectly acceptable, popularizing a practice that she referred to as, "agnoscenda defectus veri et exundantium in spe proposita consequenda mutua illustratione," which roughly translates to "getting real."
As the granting of miracles is essential in an individual's achievement of sainthood, it is noted that Galentine herself did the following:
- Restored sight to a friend blinded by an attractive but inconsiderate suitor;
- Coined the phrase "you deserve better";
- Healed the brokenhearted with a combination of carefully curated librettos (known today as "playlists") and really warm hugs;
- Transformed wilted flowers into some reeeeeal nice floral crowns that were known to lift the spirits of all who wore them;
- And danced for 27 hours straight, just for fun.
Galentine's tea parties continued to raise concerns among the Roman patriarchy, and Galentine was ultimately martyred, suffering a fate worse than death. The Roman government placed Galentine under quarantine in the Coliseum, denied her access to any of her friends, and paraded a steady stream of young men from the nefarious village of Redditus into her cell.
These men then described in excruciating detail either their plots to pen the great Roman novel, their plans to pursue elected office, their grievances with their fathers for not recognizing their full potential, or their dreams about flying or falling. She was bored to death.
Though Galentine's end was a pitiful one, let's not forget her sass, her sincerity, or her sympathy for the plight of her fellow women. Today, we celebrate Galentine by hosting our own boozy tea parties for all our best girlfriends, adorning our heads with floral crowns, and dancing to classic Britney.
Really, though, any day can be Galentine's Day. Whether your best gal is repulsed after a bad Tinder date, or furious over losing a promotion to a less talented male colleague, or anxious about the impending gloom of Another Single Valentine's Day (ASVD), here's what you do: Call the liquor store, ask them to put a six-pack of canned sparkling wine (it comes with pink straws) in the fridge, and hand-deliver the cold bubbly to your friend. If our heroine were with us today, that's exactly what she'd do.