If you’re feeling overwhelmed and burdened with the onset of Christmas you aren’t alone. In fact, every December 23, you might want to stop for a moment, step away from the shopping, preparations, wrapping, and planning and celebrate the secular holiday known as Festivus. Introduced to the public on the Dec. 18, 1997, an episode of Seinfeld called “The Strike.” In the episode, the concept, celebration, and ritual of Festivus were explored. The episode caused a social frenzy as people decided they wanted to celebrate Festivus in their own homes. Though the holiday was depicted in the episode as a real celebration, it was only because of the episode’s scriptwriter’s father that Festivus came to be —he created it.
Dan O’Keefe, who served as the episode’s screenwriter, actually grew up celebrating the holiday with his father, writer Daniel O’Keefe, who made it up. Daniel O’Keefe wrote the book Stolen Lightning: The Social Theory of Magic that focused on ritual, celebrations, and customs.
Festivus took center stage in the episode “The Strike” and it was learned that character George Costanza grew up participating in Festivus with his parents in what he revealed to be a traumatizing experience. Kramer became infatuated with the idea of Festivus and tracked down George’s father Frank Costanza to explain the holiday in detail.
You can watch the portion of “The Strike” that focused on Festivus in the video player below.
— Deb (@Deb6246) December 23, 2017
Where Christmas is a time to celebrate love, warmth, and compassion, Festivus is a time to air grievance and complaints you’ve gathered against people throughout the year. Instead of having a Christmas tree, there is a bare-aluminum pole affixed to a block of wood or another sturdy stand that takes center place.
There is a feast with food and this serves as the best setting for airing grievances. As people begin to hash out their complaints with one another, the atmosphere becomes tense and people begin to get angry. The best way to relieve this anger and enter the new year with a clean slate is with a feat of strengths.
This is a competition where people battle out their disagreements and the strongest person wins. For some, it could be arm wrestling or a game of darts. In the Seinfeld episode, George had to pin his father Frank to the floor.
What do you think about Festivus? Have you heard of the holiday before and if so, have you celebrated it?