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. The holiday was created by his father Frank and they celebrated it throughout George’s childhood. Instead of a tree or menorah, an aluminum pole was the symbol of Festivus. They’d have a dinner of meatloaf as the main course and afterward, 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 own traditions from it. 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 a tape recorder.
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.
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.
TV writer Dan O’Keefe reveals that there are more peculiar traditions left out of the episode like using a tape recorder to record the grievances.
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”, you know, like “for the rest of us.”
Do people really celebrate Festivus?
Ever since “Seinfeld” brought the holiday to the masses, many people participate in celebrating 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 aluminum 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 own 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 favorite meal, and instead of airing your grievances, everyone can tell their favorite 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 honor the show itself. Have a marathon of your favorite “Seinfeld” episodes, making sure to include Festivus, and share it with your loved ones. Be warned, afterward, you’ll probably be quoting the characters for days.
Five Facts About Festivus
Google introduced a custom search result in 2012 for the term Festivus with an unadorned aluminum pole.
O, aluminum 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 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 in order for them to be successful. From the 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 that you’re fond of, and that 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 that would prefer to celebrate secular holiday traditions. Festivus is inclusive.