Festivus - December 23

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What is Festivus?

Guess what? It’s almost time for Festivus! Have you aired your grievances or demonstrated your feats of strength around the pole yet? The holiday Festivus was first introduced on the cult classic television show Seinfeld (season nine, episode 10) in 1997. It has been celebrated every December 23 as a protest against the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. But let’s dig deeper as to how this holiday began.

How Festivus came to be

The holiday was first introduced in the Seinfeld episode “The Strike” on December 18, 1997. Festivus as we know it today began when Frank Costanza, much to the displeasure of his son George, grew tired of the commercial and religious aspects of the season and created an alternative Christmas or his own holiday, free of such distractions, with the motto, “A Festivus for the rest of us!”. Its story dates back to George’s youth when Frank went to the store to buy a doll for his son. And as another father was reaching for the same toy — the last on the shelf — Frank exclaimed, “reign blows upon him …[I] realized there must be another way.” The holiday’s popularity can be attributed to Seinfeld writer Dan O’Keefe, whose father created Festivus when O’Keefe was just 8 years old. After writing it into an episode of the classic ’90s sitcom, the once-secret family holiday became a hit and popular to the masses.

In essence, Festivus rejects the commercial and religious aspects of Christmas. Instead of a lovely and sparkling fir tree adorned with lots of decorations and ornaments, it is replaced with a plain aluminum pole and there are no presents. As Frank explains, “(it) requires no decoration. I find tinsel distracting.”, and instead of a large feast, dinner consists of meatloaf on a bed of lettuce with a dish of peas on the side.

How to celebrate Festivus Traditions

Like the traditional Christmas, Festivus also has traditions to follow.

  • Put a clock in a bag and nail it to the wall (which is considered “the true symbol of Festivus”).
  • Sit down for dinner.
  • Before eating comes the Airing of Grievances, where everyone has an opportunity to tell others how they have disappointed you in the past year.
  • Enjoy Festivus dinner.
  • During dinner, the Feats of Strength begin, where the head of the household selects one person at the Festivus celebration and challenges them to a wrestling match, and must be pinned by other family members. The honor goes to someone at the table.
  • And as far as Festivus tradition goes, Festivus is not over until the head of the household is pinned.

Compared to spending the awkward Christmas Eve with family and going broke buying gifts, Festivus may sound pretty cheap. But look on the brighter side, changing your annual year-end celebration to Festivus also means you don’t have to give presents to your office co-workers. Instead, a simple donation to “The Human Fund” will suffice — a fictitious charity created by George to dodge the expense of gifting. Moreover, the Festivus celebration does not discriminate and is actually open for all to observe.

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