Festivus is on December 23, and it’s perfect for those who don’t have a traditional holiday to celebrate. Although it sounds paradoxical, its purpose makes a lot of sense. Not everyone has a major holiday to celebrate, like Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa and they can feel left out. This holiday gives many people a non-denominational and non-commercial holiday to call their own. Festivus is for everybody!
History of Festivus
The world was made aware of Festivus in a “Seinfeld” episode. TV Writer Dan O’Keefe’s father, Daniel O’Keefe, found a reference to an obscure holiday and celebrated it in 1966. At the time, he was doing research for his book “Stolen Lightning”, which explored astrology, cults, and paranormal activity. He chose the date of December 23 to celebrate it because it was the anniversary of his first date with his wife.
In the 1997 episode of “Seinfeld” titled “The Strike”, George Castanza is the one who celebrates Festivus. His father, Frank, created the holiday and celebrated it throughout George’s childhood. Instead of a tree or menorah, an aluminium pole symbolised Festivus. They’d have a meatloaf dinner as the main course, and afterwards, they had “Feats of Strength” and “Airing of Grievances” traditions. In the latter, people could bring up what disappointed them about the previous year’s gifts.
Because of the show’s popularity and the catchphrase “A Festivus for the rest of us,” Festivus took on a life of its own. People related to the message of inclusion and the zaniness of it all and created their traditions. In 2004, Dan confessed that the real tradition was even more peculiar than on the show. There wasn’t a pole, but there were airings of grievances that they recorded on tape.
In 2009, Dan O’Keefe gave further insight into the famous catchphrase. “A Festivus for the rest of us” was a family Festivus motto. After the death of his paternal grandmother, it took on the positive meaning of looking towards the future and a reminder to appreciate life and the living.
The First Festivus
Daniel O’Keefe celebrates the anniversary of his first date with his wife, and the day became known as Festivus, based on an obscure holiday.
An episode of “Seinfeld” features Festivus, written by Daniel’s son, and the public is introduced to the holiday.
Secrets of Festivus
TV writer Dan O’Keefe reveals that more peculiar traditions are left out of the episode, like using a tape recorder to record the grievances.
Let the dead bury the dead
Dan O’Keefe reveals that the Festivus catchphrase is meant as a reminder to look to the future in his family.
What does Festivus mean?
Festivus is a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 as a religious holiday season alternative. The name most likely is a combination of “Festive us, ” like “for the rest of us.”
Do people celebrate Festivus?
Ever since “Seinfeld” brought the holiday to the masses, many people have celebrated Festivus as a Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza alternative.
Who came up with Festivus?
The original idea of Festivus was created by author Daniel O’Keefe, father to “Seinfeld” writer Dan O’Keefe.
How To Celebrate Festivus
- Reenact the traditions from the show
- The traditions of Festivus in “Seinfeld” are good for a laugh. Construct an aluminium pole and display it prominently as you have meatloaf on a bed of lettuce with your family and friends. Show off your strength with an (arm) wrestling match, then playfully air your grievances. If you’re uninterested in any of these games, per the rules, you can decline participation as long as you have something better to do.
- Make your traditions
- The best thing about Festivus is that by its very nature, it doesn’t subscribe to any one set of traditions. This gives you the right to celebrate the holiday however you’d like. Instead of meatloaf, you can make your favourite meal, and instead of airing your grievances, everyone can tell their favourite joke. No tradition is too ridiculous for Festivus.
- Have a “Seinfeld” Marathon
- Since “Seinfeld” is responsible for its massive appeal, it seems only fitting to honour the show. Have a marathon of your favourite “Seinfeld” episodes, making sure to include Festivus, and share it with your loved ones. Be warned. Afterwards, you’ll probably be quoting the characters for days.
Five Facts About Festivus
- Google it
- Google introduced a custom search result in 2012 for the term Festivus with an unadorned aluminium pole.
- O, aluminium pole
- You can purchase your own Festivus pole on Amazon.
- Florida recognizes Festivus
- A resident of Deerfield Beach, Florida, petitioned for a Festivus pole to stand next to the Capitol building’s Christmas tree and the nativity scene, and he won.
- “Seinfeld” gets social
- The #AiringofGrievances hashtag has been used to complain about various issues on social media.
- What might not have been
- Dan O’Keefe didn’t originally want to include an episode about Festivus, but he was convinced otherwise.
Why We Love Festivus
- The pressure is off
- So many other holidays require a lot of hard work to succeed. From gift-giving to the expectations of dress, it can be a time that people dread for fear of failure. Festivus has a very casual and playful charm where you can relax and treat it more like a game than an obligation.
- You can customize it
- Traditions can be fun, but they can also be limiting. With Festivus, you can keep what you want and throw out what you don’t want. There are no rules against including some of the traditions you’re fond of, which makes it more personal.
- The meaning of Festivus
- While it might seem like a long-running joke, it’s truly a meaningful holiday. Holiday traditions can feel exclusive to certain groups. This opens the holiday season to those who prefer to celebrate secular holiday traditions. Festivus is inclusive.