You savvy Seinfeld viewers are no doubt familiar with this holiday, but for those who aren’t – a brief summary on the phenomenon known as Festivus.
Created as a plot device for a Seinfeld episode, Festivus is a nondenominational celebration of the shunning of the traditional commercialism and materialism that accompanies the holiday season. Frank Costanza created the holiday in response to the frustrations he felt regarding the usual holiday celebrations, relating the origins to Kramer.
Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?
Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born â€¦ a Festivus for the rest of us!
The Festivus holiday has these traditional elements: The Festivus Pole, The Festivus Dinner, The Airing of Grievances, and The Feats of Strength. These may or may not be followed by a Festivus Miracle.
Festivus Pole - The tradition of Festivus begins with an aluminum pole, chosen in opposition to the commercialization of highly decorated Christmas Tree. During Festivus, the undecorated Festivus Pole is displayed in the home.
Cosmo Kramer: Is there a tree?
Frank Costanza: No, instead, there’s a pole. It requires no decoration. I find tinsel distracting.
Frank Costanza: It’s made from aluminum. Very high strength-to-weight ratio.
Mr. Kruger: I find your belief system fascinating.
More from Frank of the Pole: http://www.cbrsd.org/nessacus/festivus/george024.wav
The Airing of Grievances – The actual celebration of Festivus begins with the Airing of Grievances, which takes place immediately after the Festivus dinner has been served. During the the Airing of Grievances, each person stands and tells each friend and family member present at the table of all the instances where they have disappointed him or her throughout the past year. Much fun is had by all.
The Feats of Strength - the final tradition that is observed in the celebration of Festivus. Traditionally, the head of the household selects one person at the celebration and challenges said person to a wrestling match. The person may decline if they have something better to do, but someone present must fullfill this duty since tradition states that Festivus is not over until the head of the household is pinned on the floor.
The Festivus Miracle – Although it is not an official element of the holiday or its celebration, the phenomenon of the Festivus Miracle is declared by Kramer during the episode.
Betting Shop Guy: Hello again, Miss Benes.
Elaine Benes: What are you doing here?
Betting Shop Guy: Damndest thing. Me and Charlie were calling to ask you out, and we got this, uh, bagel place.
Cosmo Kramer: I told them I was just about to see you. It’s a Festivus Miracle!
- – - – -
Jerry Seinfeld: Gwen! How did you know I was here?
Gwen: Kramer told me!
Cosmo Kramer: Another Festivus Miracle!!
Kramer enthusiastically declared both of these occasions "Festivus miracle(s)!", although as the above instances prove, the "Festivus Miracle" seems to be nothing more than a mere coincidence, rather than an actual miracle.
So that’s it. Many retailers have embraced the holiday, selling Festivus Poles. Amazon sells a book on it. Soldiers in Iraq have even celebrated for morale when they are away during the holidays.
So go spend the afternoon at work looking up Festivus on Google.