A Guide to All Things Festivus
Thanks to a Christmas shopping excursion gone awry, the American public learned about Frank Costanza’s fictitious holiday and its many quirks during a 1997 episode of Seinfeld entitled “The Strike.” Its lore has since grown and Festivus is seen as a humorous alternative to Christmas and offers you the chance to celebrate the traditional holiday season in a most untraditional way.
Festivus is celebrated on December 23, but you can celebrate early if you truly feel that the holiday crush has become too much to bear. While Festivus is indeed a nontraditional holiday, there are rules that you should adhere to in order to give this fake holiday the respect it deserves.
First off, there is no Christmas Tree. There’s only a tall aluminum pole aptly named the Festivus Pole. It’s easy to set up since it requires no decoration (tinsel is distracting) and can typically be stored in a basement or attic during the off-season. You can even use a fence post as a substitute or simply put a large nail into a very small pot for a coffee table/desktop Festivus Pole. In recent years, the Festivus Pole has been erected at several city courthouses and state buildings alongside Christmas Trees and Menorahs.
The second aspect of Festivus would involve a feast of some sort. Turkey is not recommended as the drowsy side effects may distract from the festivities. Frank explains that, “At the Festivus dinner, you gather your family (or friends) around, and tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year!”
Which brings us to The Airing of Grievances. Needless to say, this is one of the best parts of Festivus since you have carte blanche to say anything about anybody. This ritual is typically performed during the feast and moves around the table or room in a clock-wise fashion. The head of the household both starts and finishes The Airing of Grievances since they are hosting Festivus and it will go on until everyone feels that they have fully voiced their frustration and dissatisfaction with those closest to them. Revelers are not allowed to defend themselves, and those who speak out of turn are banished from Festivus.
After the feast, there is only one way to end Festivus: The Feats of Strength. Traditionally, whoever is hosting the event must select one attendee and challenge them to a wrestling match. The conditions and locations of the match are up to the host. However, there are modern alternatives to this barbaric pastime. You could do thumb wrestling, footraces, and even a spelling bee. The options are endless.
Festivus brings people from all faiths and all walks of life to gather together and truly feel the warmth of the holiday season by being honest with one another and having a good time. It’s what makes Festivus a holiday for the rest of us.