Category: 

What is Festivus?

Fruitcake is a traditional aspect of Festivus.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Bill Clinton met John F. Kennedy when he was 16.  more...

September 2 ,  1666 :  The "Great Fire of London" burned down more than 13,000 buildings, including St. Paul's   more...

Festivus is an unusual made up holiday that gained considerable attention when it was featured in a 1997 episode of the popular American comedy Seinfeld, titled The Strike. Until that point, Festivus was only known by one of the writers, Dan O’Keefe, whose father had originated the holiday many years earlier. O’Keefe made numerous changes to his own family tradition before featuring the holiday as one celebrated yearly by Frank Costanza, the father of one of the main characters, George. George made up the holiday in order to protest his frustration at the commercialization of Christmas, but people of any denomination can celebrate this holiday.

There are several key components in the Festivus tradition, which include displaying an aluminum pole, which is usually not decorated, and is dubbed the Festivus pole. Other traditions include having a fruitcake on hand that people may look at but not eat. The two main aspects of the holiday are the airing of grievances and the feats of strength.

Ad

In the airing of grievances, people are allowed to tell anyone else present all of the things they have done that year that were disappointing, annoying or angering. The feats of strength may involve attempting to wrestle the head of the house to the floor and the holiday may not end until this is accomplished. In the original episode featuring Festivus, the head of house gets to pick the person who attempts this wrestling and hints from the episode suggest this wrestling match has been particularly hard on George in previous years.

The peculiarity of the episode and its humor has led to many people celebrating the holiday, usually on 23 December. They may have true “Festivus for the rest of us” celebrations or may get together to watch favorite Seinfeld clips. Numerous celebrants add their own special take to Festivus and can include anything that has to do with hating various holidays as part of the day.

The interest in this holiday has led to a number of products that reference it including t-shirts and mugs. Those who celebrate say that every home deserves a copy of the now popular book by Allen Salkin, Festivus: The Holiday for the Rest of Us. In addition to giving detailed information about the word origin of the holiday name and extensive references, Salkin’s book chronicles the way people around the world have latched on to this silly holiday and added their own unique traditions to it.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email