Thanks to the overwhelming popularity of Seinfeld, we’re just days away from Festivus 2020! The fictional holiday, celebrated annually on December 23, is central to the plot of the 1997 Seinfeld episode “The Strike”. In the episode, George gifts his colleagues cards, informing them that he had made a donation in their name to a made-up charity called The Human Fund. When caught in his lie by his boss, Mr. Kruger, George blames it on the fact that his family doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Instead, the Costanzas celebrate a holiday two days earlier called Festivus. To prove that too isn’t a lie, Mr. Kruger joins George at the family Festivus meal.
In the show, Festivus was said to have been invented years earlier by Frank Costanza as a way to combat and “get a leg up” on Christmas, after Frank had come to blows years earlier with another holiday shopper reaching for the same doll. By celebrating Festivus two days before Christmas, Frank theoretically would start his shopping earlier and avoid such struggles. Over the years, the Costanzas had stopped celebrating Festivus, until Kramer learned of the holiday and became intrigued, prompting Frank to celebrate once more.
Among the unusual rituals associated with the Costanza family holiday is an “airing of grievances” over dinner, where everyone tells each other a way they had disappointed one another that year. A “feats of strength” takes place later in the night where someone must wrestle Frank. Rather than a tree, an aluminum pole is placed in the center of the room.
Not All Fictional
It turns out, Festivus existed outside of Seinfeld. In fact, it was a real family tradition of Seinfeld writer Dan O’Keefe from his childhood! And today, Festivus has stood the test of time and is nearly recognized as a real holiday. Many Americans celebrate Festivus each year as a fun way to honor the show.
It’s unlikely any celebrations take Festivus terribly seriously. It would be hard to imagine a family going to the trouble of getting together just to demean each other, or wrestle each other to the ground in a serious fight. Of course, if done humorously, a real celebration could turn into a hilarious precursor to Christmas.
How Would You Celebrate?
What would a Festivus celebration look like in your home? How difficult would it be to track down an appropriate pole? Would you be willing to wrestle an aging parent on a full stomach? Might you stage a Festivus celebration as a great excuse to air a real grievance to someone?
Let us know in the comments!