Festivus : The Alternative Celebration

December, 2016

Festivus, celebrated by some on December 23rd, was originally from the sitcom television series ‘Seinfeld’ on an episode called ‘The Strike’ (1997). The premise of the show was that one of the main characters named George Costanza described his father’s creation of a holiday called ‘Festivus’.  According to George, his father created the holiday in response to the commercialization of the holiday season.  This no-frills approach to the holidays is brimming with eccentricities which are a reflection of Frank Costanza’s character and the basis of its popularity.  Below are some customary practices that make Festivus a unique celebration:

The Festivus Pole- an aluminum pole with a ‘very high strength-to-weight ratio’ as Frank Costanza noted.

The Festivus Dinner- a slice of meatloaf on a bed of lettuce.

The Airing of Grievances- usually takes place around the dinner table, citing problems you have with friends and family members. It’s a combination of all the issues you had with someone that calendar year.

The Feats of Strength- usually performed after the meal or it can be done during the meal depending on what is said during the ‘Airing of Grievances’. The head household challenges one person to a wrestling match. Tradition dictates that the holiday is not over until the head of the household is pinned down.

The scriptwriter for the episode, Dan O’Keefe, never imagined that a holiday that was created by his own father would resonate with so many people. In his book The Real Festivus (2005), he recalled how his father came up with this new family tradition. The book also gives little nuances about what was really used in the original celebration.

In this current climate, when everything seems a bit chaotic and with the holiday season in full swing, a Festivus celebration doesn't sound all that bad. In the words of Frank Costanza, ‘It’s festivus for the rest of us.’ Happy Holidays!!