- Festivus was introduced to the world in an episode of NBC’s “Seinfeld” in 1997.
- Fans of the sitcom celebrate Festivus on December 23.
- The holiday celebrates anti-commercialism, with an emphasis on airing out any year-long grievances you’re harboring.
To some, December 23 is a day of preparation: A day of cooking, cleaning, wrapping presents, and last-minute trips to the mall. To others, Christmas Eve has nothing to do with Christmas or any commercialized traditions. Instead, they will gaze upon the unadorned, aluminium poles stationed in the middle of their living rooms in honour of Festivus – the “Festivus for the rest of us.”
The concept of Festivus was first introduced to the world during an episode of “Seinfeld” in 1997
During the episode titled “The Strike,” George Costanza (Jason Alexander) receives a “holiday” card from his father, Frank (Jerry Stiller). When Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) reads the inscription, “Dear Son, Happy Festivus,” she asks Costanza to explain. Embarrassed, Costanza tries to end the conversation.
Amused, Jerry Seinfeld butts in with a clarification.
“When George was growing up, his father hated all commercial and religious aspects of Christmas,” he told Benes.
So instead, Frank made up his own kind of celebration that, instead of putting up and decorating a Christmas tree with different colour twinkle lights a tinsel, featured a bare maypole in the center of his living room. And rather than go around the room sharing all the things you’re grateful for, dinner conversation would be comprised of an airing of grievances.
“After Festivus dinner,” Frank explained, “you gather your family around, and tell them all the ways they have disappointed you in the last year.”
On December 23, “Seinfeld” fans all over the world will celebrate Festivus with an aluminium pole and an “airing of grievances”
Festivus can be fun, and if you’re interested in celebrating its 21st anniversary, here’s how to go about doing so with a lot of laughs and limited amounts of drama.
As per Frank’s instructions, Festivus is void of all decorations accept one – an aluminium pole in the middle of the living room. So if you still plan on celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa this year, either put away or hold off on the festive decor until December 24.
“There’s a pole, and it requires no decoration,” Frank said. “I find tinsel distracting.”
Festivus dinner is up to interpretation. During the episode, what appears to be meatloaf is served over a bed of lettuce, with side dishes like peas and mashed potatoes. But because Frank never specifies meatloaf as being the signature dish of Festivus, feel free to whip up whatever you’d like. Though you might want to consider a menu chock full of comfort food since the airing of grievances ceremony could get pretty heavy.
During or following dinner, the airing of grievances commences. This is the point in the night where you, and each of your guests, spill everything that’s been bothering you about one another over the past year. If that sounds like a recipe for disaster to you, that’s because it is.
And finally, to end off the festivities, there is a Feats of Strength, which is basically just a living room wrestling match. The host picks their opponent, and the holiday comes to a close when someone gets pinned. It’s an aggressive end to an otherwise sufficiently awkward, emotional night.
Before Festivus appeared on TV, it had been a years-long tradition of “Seinfeld” co-writer Dan O’Keefe’s father
“It was f—— weird, man,” O’Keefe explained in an interview with Mother Jones. “It did not have a set date… We never knew when it was going to happen until we got off the school bus and there were weird decorations around our house and weird French ’60s music playing. I didn’t pitch it. I fought against it. I thought it would be embarrassing and drag the show down, but… Jerry liked it.”
According to CNN, during an interview with the news outlet back in 2013, O’Keefe explained that a lot of the Festivus traditions described in the show – such as the feats of strength and aluminium pole – were made for TV. The airing of grievances into a tape recorder, however, was his father’s own unique custom.
But Festivus wasn’t exactly something O’Keefe had been proud of, let alone something he wanted to be televised.
“I didn’t want to put it on TV because it was sort of a family disgrace,” O’Keefe told CNN. “I thought it was going to be the most forgettable part of it that was cut out for syndication.”
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