A Festivus for the Rest of Us
Whenever I hear someone say to me, “Happy Holidays!” I typically assume they are referring to Festivus. The famous (or infamous) secular winter celebration, occurs every year on December 23 and lept to the forefront of the national consciousness thanks to an episode of the popular television show Seinfeld. The episode was titled “The Strike,” and was written by Daniel O'Keefe, whose father, writer Dan O'Keefe, invented the Festivus holiday. Though many celebrate Festivus with their own traditions or variations, the celebrations from the Costanza family in Seinfeld are the most common Festivus activities for those who choose to celebrate. Here are the key ways to celebrate Festivus:
The Festivus response to the Christmas tree is The Festivus Pole, an unadorned aluminum pole. According to Frank Costanza, the pole is unadorned because tinsel is distracting and aluminum is used because of the “Very high strength-to-weight ratio.”
The Festivus Meal is an integral part of the Festivus celebration. Though the specific food to consume is not explicitly addressed, our best estimates can merely follow the guidelines by the Costanza family. They eat what appears to be a meatloaf, and despite the best efforts from others at the table throughout the course of the episode, there is no alcohol served during the Festivus Meal.
According to Frank Costanza, “The tradition of Festivus begins with the Airing of Grievances.” The Airing of Grievances is the Festivus way of letting everyone know how they let you down over the past year. It is open, straight forward and can be harsh.
Festivus concludes with the Feats of Strength. With the Feats of Strength, the head of the household chooses one individual to participate, and essentially, the chosen individual and the head of the household have a wrestling match. If the chosen individual is able to pin the head of the household, Festivus is over- if not, Festivus continues. The only way a person can get out of the Feats of Strength is if they have another obligation, as we learn when Kramer unexpectedly leaves for work. In the event of the first selected participant having another obligation, another participant will be selected. We do not officially see the Feats of Strength in the original episode of Seinfeld, though we are told that as a child, George was frequently brought to tears by the activity.