The New Stuff

Christmas Or Not: There Is A Festivus For The Rest Of Us!


The cultural ground-breaking sitcom of all time, “Seinfeld” – a show about nothing that continued to give us something after something – is even influencing this year's holiday season. Internet search engines have seen a recent influx of queries for “Festivus” – George's father's holiday alternative for Christmas.

You may recall the 1997 “Seinfeld” episode, “The Strike,” that introduced the strange holiday concept where Frank Costanza, played by Jerry Stiller, explains it to Kramer at H&H Bagels.

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: a Festivus for the rest of us!"
Kramer: "That must have been some kind of doll."
Frank Costanza: "She was."

For those of you that forgot the particular practices of this thoughtful holiday, let me refresh your memory so you all do it the proper Costanza way this year. Of course, at some point during your Festivus meal, there is what's known as the "Airing of Grievances." This is where you gather your family around, and tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year! Now the next and final Festivus tradition is probably the most important; “The Feats of Strength.” This is where, immediately following the meal, the head of the household, selects a person at the table to engage in a wrestling match. Well, beats the hell out of virgin eggnog.

Now that you're all ready to party Festivus style, remember that there is no tree people! Instead, there's an aluminum pole. And don't get creative. It requires no decoration. Remember, Frank finds “tinsel distracting."

Throughout the years since the first airing of this episode, this foolish holiday has shaped numerous aspects of popular culture and even brought a sense of humor to politics. According to Wikipedia, “ 'Festivus' was the name of a seasonal Ben & Jerry's ice cream made in 2000 and 2001.” Again in 2000, it was “a term the Baltimore Ravens and their fans used to denote the NFL Playoffs.” And get this... “In 2005, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle was declared 'Governor Festivus' and during the holiday season displayed a Festivus Pole in the family room of the Executive Residence in Madison, Wisconsin.” My personal favorite happened in 2008 when, “the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C. held an "airing of grievances" on bulletin boards attached to a kiosk which were then aired by a town crier in a jester hat the following weekend.” Awesome!

It goes without saying that “Seinfeld” proved that a lot of nothing is something we can all relate to. Leaving no sociological stone unturned, this holiday season, this show still continues to prove that you needn't worry if you miss Christmas this year... because there's “a Festivus for the rest of us!"

(Image from Wikipedia)

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