Festivus for the Rest of Us: A Primer (Video)

Sasha Brown-Worsham

When Seinfeld aired its episode "The Strike" on December 18, 1997, few people had ever heard of the holiday Festivus. Most still think it was a holiday invented by Jerry Seinfeld and celebrated every December 23. To be sure, Seinfeld is what brought the holiday into pop culture. But he didn't invent it.

On the show, George Costanza's father is fed up with the commercialism of Christmas so he forms a new holiday, a "Festivus for the rest of us." The holiday was actually created by writer Dan O'Keefe whose son Daniel -- a Seinfeld screenwriter -- shared it with the world at large. Originally it was celebrated some time between February and May, but now December 23 is the day. It caught on. So many celebrate the holiday that an inmate in California actually convinced a judge that he deserved better meals for "Festivus." O'Keefe once asked his son:

"Have we accidentally invented a cult?"

Not exactly. But he did invent a holiday many can actually appreciate. See below:

To celebrate Festivus, you really only need to do four things. They are:

The Festivus Pole

To have a Festivus party, one must first erect a Festivus pole -- a simple, strong aluminum pole. Tinsel is too distracting and thus must not be used in any way.

Festivus Dinner

Any nice dinner will do, just be sure to include as many people as you can. The dinner should just be a normal dinner party leading into the actual festivities.

Airing of Grievances

Ever want to tell Grandma how she disappointed you this year or let your uncle know he is a gigantic bigot and you find that disgusting? Now is your chance! Unlike Christmas and Hanukkah where we all plaster on a smile and pretend to like each other, at Festivus we get to be honest. Excellent. Or, as George's dad once said, "I've got a lot of problems with you people and now you're gonna hear about 'em."

Feats of Strength

Since the grievances cause a lot of people to get upset, feats of strength follow to dispel the tension. The head of household must wrestle until he or she is pinned, thus concluding the festivities.

If you think Festivus is a joke, consider the opinion of Anthony F. Aveni, a professor of astronomy and anthropology at Colgate and the author of The Book of the Year: A Brief History of Our Seasonal Holidays (Oxford University Press, 2002), who thinks it really might become a holiday.

"After all, Halloween used to be an obscure festival observed by few, Kwanzaa was invented by an academic in California in the 1960s, and Hanukkah has been reinvented in modern times to include gift-giving. Even Christmas comes out of a pagan holiday that happened around the solstice," Professor Aveni said.

Put that in your pole and smoke it! And happy Festivus.

Will you be celebrating?

Image via YouTube

Read More