Happy Festivus! December 23rd is Festivus Day, a holiday created by the beloved, although at times controversial, sitcom Seinfeld. Seinfeld was one of the biggest television shows of the 90s, popularizing now-common phrases such as “yada yada yada,” “close talker,” or “Festivus,” a secular non-commercial alternative to Christmas. The unofficial holiday has since become a popular and widely celebrated tradition, at least by Seinfeld aficionados, and perhaps those looking for a quirky and different holiday option. On December 23rd you can celebrate the “Festivus for the rest of us!” and take part in the Seinfeld phenomenon.
Frank: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Kramer: What happened to the doll?
Frank: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born. A Festivus for the rest of us.
Festivus is from the episode “The Strike.” Kramer is rehired at a bagel shop after a 12-year strike, and George fabricates the “Human Fund,” a fake charity to donate to in his co-workers’ names in lieu of real Christmas gifts. And, infamously, viewers are introduced to Frank’s alternative holiday “Festivus” because of Kramer’s encouraging to bring back the eccentric holiday.
As the episode explains, Frank created Festivus “many Christmases” ago because of his hatred for the religious commercial aspects of Christmas. Festivus features an aluminum pole with a “very high strength-to-weight ratio” rather than “distracting tinsel,” requiring no decorations, and it features the traditions the “Airing of Grievances,” the “Feats of Strengths,” and the “Festivus Dinner.”
But Festivus has origins beyond Frank Costanza—it’s a “real” holiday from Dan O’Keefe’s family. Dan O’Keefe wrote “The Strike,” including his family’s holiday in the episode. He wrote the book “The Real Festivus,” published in 2005, an autobiographical book detailing his family’s odd tradition.
How this holiday Unites People:
To celebrate Festivus, hold your own Festivus celebration and partake in the traditional Festivus activities!
You’ll need an aluminum pole as your official Festivus decoration. You can buy one from festivuspoles.com or, as festivusweb.com recommends, make your own pole from an old lamp rod or other metal pole to avoid commercialization. The Festivus Pole was not a part of O’Keefe’s Festivus but was added by Seinfeld writers.
And you’ll need a Festivus Dinner! The Festivus Dinner in “The Strike” is meatloaf on a bed of lettuce served by Estelle Costanza. The O’Keefe’s Festivus dinner was turkey, ham, beef stew, or lamb chops, and pecan pie for dessert, although O’Keefe’s mother often served a Pepperidge Farm cake decorated with M&Ms.
After the Festivus Dinner, everyone attending must participate in the Airing of Grievances, where each person tells the others how they had disappointed them the last year. To make your celebration more harmonious, have each person say their grievances separately into their phone. In the O’Keefe household, all family members spoke their grievances into a cassette recorder.
Festivus isn’t over until the head of household is pinned in the Feats of Strength! An elected individual must pin down the head of household to end the holiday. Frank picks Kramer in “The Strike.” The real Festivus did not feature a Feats of Strength.
You can also give each of your Festivus guests a “Human Fund” greeting card! Tell each of your guests that a donation was made in their name to the “Human Fund” as their Festivus gift!
And if something special happens, be sure to use the phrase “It’s a Festivus Miracle!”