Fun facts about Festivus, the anti-holiday that gained fame after airing on a "Seinfeld" episode in 1997.
How It All Began, Part I
The world was introduced to Festivus on the popular sitcom “Seinfeld” in its ninth and final season. The episode was called “The Strike,” and it originally aired Dec. 18, 1997 (and if you turn on your TV now, it’s probably rerunning on some channel).
How It All Began, Part II
Festivus came to be included in “Seinfeld” through one of its writers – Daniel O’Keefe. O’Keefe’s father created the anti-holiday, and it’s pretty much what you see on “Seinfeld,” according to an interview O’Keefe gave for the “Seinfeld” DVD.
How It All Began, Part III
In the “Seinfeld” episode, Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller) tells Kramer (Michael Richards) the story of its creation: “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. … But out of that a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us!”
When Is It?
Dec. 23. O’Keefe said his family didn’t have a specific date to celebrate Festivus, but he and the other “Seinfeld” writers assigned it the date of the 23rd.
What Is It?
There are a couple key aspects to Festivus: the pole, the “Airing of Grievances” and the “Feats of Strength.”
The pole – a plain aluminum rod – substitutes for a Christmas tree, and it requires no decoration (tinsel is “distracting,” Frank says). The Airing of Grievances is a time when people can tell others about how they have disappointed them over the past year. As Frank says, “I got a lot of problems with you people!” The Feats of Strength take place at the end of the Festivus celebration (“Festivus isn’t over until you pin me”), and it consists of a wrestling match between the head of the household and whomever he or she selects to wrestle with.
And There Are Miracles, Too
In the episode, Kramer twice mentions the “Festivus miracle.” It’s the same idea as “Christmas miracle,” although the Festivus miracles turn out to be the opposite of what the recipient wants.
Do People Really Celebrate It?
Indeed. Google “Festivus” and you’ll find all kinds of people and groups who are celebrating the holiday.
As Festivus becomes more mainstream, it’s also becoming quite commercialized. A company in Wisconsin even sells Festivus poles.
I Want to Learn More
First off, watch the “Seinfeld” episode. Then check out these books:
“Festivus: The Holiday for the Rest of Us,” by Allen Salkin, with a forward by Jerry Stiller. The book talks about the holiday’s origins and its celebration nowadays.
“The Real Festivus,” by Daniel O’Keefe. From the family who gave us Festivus comes this first-person account of the holiday.
And Now, It’s Time To Air Our Grievances
On second thought, perhaps we’ll just let you air your own. Feel free to share some with us (nothing mean-spirited, please – this is all in good fun).
GateHouse News Service