When December approaches, everyone suddenly has something to look forward to, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, or the king of it all New Year’s Eve.
But one man, many years ago, decided that he was fed up with it all.
So he made a new holiday.
Popularized in the classic TV show Seinfeld, Festivus was shown to be a wacky holiday created by Frank Costanza, played by Jerry Stiller, to overcome the new mainstream commercialism of Christmas that has come with it's inevitable growth over many years in the United States, and that is only one of many reasons people still celebrate the holiday today.
The story of Festivus begins just like that of Hanukkah and Christmas, with two guys fighting over a product in a department store in the beginning of December. According to Stiller’s now timeless monologue, the idea for a new holiday was created after he “rained blows upon” another man attempting to purchase the last doll available for his child, and soon after this, he realized that “there had to be a better way.” As such, Festivus was born.
Traditionally, rather than having a Christmas tree or menorah, Festivus is celebrated with an aluminum pole, due to the fact that “it requires no decoration,” and that Frank Costanza “finds tinsel distracting.” Though it is unconfirmed, the meal seen being served by Frank’s wife Estelle at dinner on the night of December 23rd 1996 is meatloaf over a plate of lettuce, which I still cannot decide if it sounds appetizing or not.
For those readers that are unfamiliar with the order in which festivities work, the gathering starts with the Airing of Grievances, in which each person goes around the table and tells each person how they’ve disappointed them throughout the year. Typically the host gets the ritual going, as demonstrated by Frank Costanza mentioning to his son’s boss that his “company stinks”, and includes another timeless quote:
“I’ve got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re gonna hear about it!”
Next is the Feats of Strength, in which the host of the celebration must pin down the youngest guest to the floor, and until this feat is completed then the Festivus celebration must go on. Of course, one must be careful with this part; I hurt my dad’s arm after pinning him to the floor last year.
But the best part of Festivus is by far the Festivus miracles, which pretty much encompasses any easily explainable occurrence during the holiday, such as the episode of Seinfeld “The Strike” being on television (the episode about Festivus is called the Strike, it’s a funny joke).
And although the holiday is untraditional and satirical, the idea of commercialism taking over holidays is on the minds of many people these days.
But the best way to get over those feelings is just having a really good laugh.