A Brief History
On December 23, 1997, the Seinfeld television comedy show introduced us to a new, secular holiday to be celebrated during the winter season, avoiding the religious friction of Hanukkah vs. Christmas vs. Saturnalia vs. Winter Solstice and the racially charged Kwanzaa. (Note: Kwanzaa was invented by a creep that was convicted of kidnapping and torturing 2 African American women.) December 23 is the day designated for the celebration of Festivus (For The Rest of Us!!!)
The brainchild of Seinfeld writer Dan O’Keefe, the idea of Festivus is to provide a “holiday” without any pressures to buy presents, unspoiled by past traditions and without any need to buy into a particular religion or culture. It is for EVERYBODY!
So how does one celebrate Festivus? It is easy! For the most part, you make up your own rules, but some common themes prevail. First is the use of a “Festivus Pole.”
Unlike a fancy decorated Christmas tree or a family heirloom menorah, this item is a plain, unadorned pole, often of aluminum. Celebrants may or may not have munchies present, but usually some sort of spread is a good idea, though a regular formal dinner is not the point. Alcohol may or may not be served, as local custom (and laws, dorm rules, etc.) dictate. The Festivus dinner, or “Strike,” precedes the other activities.
Activities include the happy interaction of friends enjoying each other’s company, with “The Airing of Grievances” allowing participants to rant about those things that grind their gears, including condemnation of the acts of others present (in good humor, like at a roast). The next main event is “Feats of Strength,” in which participants may challenge each other to a wrestling match. Perhaps thumb wrestling or arm wrestling, or even leg wrestling, can substitute for the WWE furniture destroying variety. The sharing of tales of “Festivus Miracles,” basically commonplace, ordinary events blown out of proportion to be labeled miracles normally comes last, although the order of events is up to the Festivus celebrants. Who are we to tell you how to celebrate???
Since its introduction on the Seinfeld television sitcom in 1997, the idea of Festivus has taken root in American culture. Bill Belichick referred to the Super Bowl as “Festivus Maximus,” and numerous other cultural references have been made in various media. In 2017, CNN’s Jake Tapper referred to President Trump’s media bashing as Festivus Airing of Grievances!
Question for students (and subscribers): Do you celebrate Festivus? Does anyone you know? Are you going to, now that you know about it? Give us your Festivus stories and tell us about your Festivus traditions. If you are not into Festivus, tell us what “holiday” you would like to initiate for “The Rest of Us!” Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Nelson, Mark R. Festivus! The Book: A Complete Guide to the Holiday for the Rest of Us. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by meesh of a Festivus dress, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.