Thank you, Kramer and company from Seinfeld. While the popular NBC sitcom has been officially off the air since May, 1998, Festivus is likely one of the biggest things to come from the series. The holiday actually was “invented” in 1966 by Daniel O’Keefe, and popularized by the Seinfeld crew during an episode written by O’Keefe’s son Dan.
Festivus is a holiday designed to protest the commercialism for which Christmas is known, according to O’Keefe, and it was brought to widespread public view thanks to the Seinfeld episode “The Strike,” which aired December 18, 1997. It has been celebrated by many ever since, and since Dec. 23 marks Festivus, there are a few important details you need to know about how to celebrate it.
First and foremost, WRIC reports, the occasion is marked by the presence of a simple silver pole. Festivus does not need the pomp and ceremony of a tree or a menorah, but instead an undercoated aluminum pole is used to mark the holiday. There are “Feats of Strength,” usually a wrestling match, and there is the Airing of Grievances — for some, this might be the favorite part of Festivus.
Festivus became internationally known when George Costanza brought his boss home to celebrate Festivus with his family. It has become a hit since, with celebrations popping up across North America.
No Festivus celebration is complete without a meal to mark the holiday, and according to Seinfeld lore, the meal should be meat loaf on a bed of lettuce and spaghetti with a red sauce. No alcohol was served with the meal, unless it was poured from a flask that was brought. Dan O’Keefe reports that when his family celebrated Festivus, either turkey or ham was served.
According to International Business Times, there have been several celebrations leading up to Festivus across the United States. There have been Seinfeld trivia contests, and today, there are several Festivus meals occurring at locations in New York and New Jersey. One hotel, the Renaissance Dupont Circle Hotel, has been celebrating Festivus throughout December, with a range of specials being offered for consumers to enjoy.
Festivusweb reports that some of the symbols associated with the O’Keefe version of Festivus included symbols like a clock and a bag, while the Feats of Strength usually involve a wrestling match of sorts. According to the younger O’Keefe, Festivus was not necessarily always celebrated in December.
“It did not have a set date…We never knew when it was going to happen until we got off the school bus and there were weird decorations around our house and weird French ’60s music playing,” Dan O’Keefe said, and added that the pole was actually an invention of the Seinfeld writers’ room.
Festivus Web noted that O’Keefe originally balked at the idea of including Festivus, fearing that the invented holiday was actually too weird to include in the show. One of his brothers had actually told some of the writers about Festivus, and they thought it was funny enough to include in the show. It is certainly possible that incident was included in future Airing of Grievances in the O’Keefe household.
Festivus may not be as wrapped up in the spirit of giving as Christmas is, but that would seem to be the idea. Embrace the pole, train for the Feats of Strength, and list your grievances for airing. Festivus 2015 is sure to be memorable.
(Feature Image By Common Wolf from Montreal, Canada (Happy Festivus) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)