A Festivus for the Rest of Us!

Ways You Can Celebrate Festivus This Holiday Season!

History of the Seinfeld Holiday, and Its Real-Life Origin!

Image Courtesy of NBC / Sporcle

Are you constantly being bombarded with Christmas social media posts, commercials, coupons, and more this Holiday season? Are you longing for a secular and non-commercial holiday to celebrate with your family? Luckily, such a holiday does exist, in the form of Festivus! For those of you who are not familiar with Seinfeld, you might be wondering… what in the world is Festivus? In today’s blog, we’ll explain the origins of Festivus, the core tenants of the holiday, and how you can celebrate this holiday with the ones who matter most to you.

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The Origins of Festivus

The Festivus that most of us are familiar with originated in the season nine episode of Seinfeld called, “The Strike”. What most might not know, however, is that Festivus was actually a real holiday created and celebrated by one of the Seinfeld writer’s family. Dan O’Keefe’s father, Daniel O’Keefe, started the tradition of Festivus all the way back in 1966, and did not necessarily happen during Christmas, which is a big difference from the Seinfeld version, as the Seinfeld version presents it as a direct counter to the commercialism of Christmas. In fact, many of the typical Festivus traditions were not celebrated at the O’Keefe version of Festivus. Now might be a good time to get into the Seinfeld traditions of Festivus.

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Festivus Traditions

The celebration of Festivus is anchored by four traditions, the Festivus Pole, Festivus Dinner, the Airing of Grievances, and finally, the Feats of Strength. A true Festivus celebration passes under the watchful eye of the aluminum pole. The Festivus pole is unadorned and especially does not feature tinsel, as tinsel is, “distracting” according to the Seinfeld originator of Festivus, Frank Costanza, played by the late Jerry Stiller. The pole should be some form of metal, aluminum seems to have been selected because it has a very high strength-to-weight ratio.

Once your Festivus pole has been set up, the next step to celebrate Festivus is dinner. The dinner itself is not too different from a traditional holiday dinner, family and friends gather around to enjoy home-cooked meals and the company of others, in the true spirit of Festivus. The dinner, however, is where the next Festivus tradition occurs, the Airing of Grievances. The Airing of Grievances occurs immediately after dinner, and is an opportunity for your family to tell one another all of the ways that they have disappointed you in the past year. Keep in mind that telling your family all of the ways that they actually disappointed you can be pretty harsh in practice, so maybe keep these grievances on the lighter side if you are practicing Festivus this year! Finally, the Festivus holiday ends with the Feats of Strength. A true Festivus celebration cannot end without the head of the household getting wrestled and pinned to the floor by a family member or friend. In the Seinfeld version, Frank challenges Kramer to the Feats of Strength, indicating that the head of household can choose their opponent, although George is eventually selected to wrestle Frank after Kramer leaves to work a double shift.

After these traditions have been upheld, and the head of household has been pinned, then the Seinfeld version of Festivus has been concluded. Have you ever celebrated Festivus in your house? Let us know in the comments if you have, or if you have any other fun family traditions around the holidays like the O’Keefe family!

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