For many of us, the winter season is also a holiday period where we engage in family gatherings, exchanging gifts, and taking some much-needed time for relaxation to recharge for the upcoming new year.
But what if you aren’t particularly into Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Three Kings Day, Chinese New Year, winter solstice, or any other mainstream celebration? There’s something for the rest of us: Festivus!
So break out the metal pole and ready your list of grievances to tell your relatives and friends, because we’ll break down everything you need to know about what the holiday is and how to celebrate it.
Festivus isn’t a “real” holiday per se, but instead was invented in the fictional world of the sitcom Seinfeld.
It first appeared in season 9, episode 10 of the series, called “The Strike,” airing in December 1997. The fake holiday was created by Jerry Stiller’s Frank Costanza, the father of Jason Alexander’s George Costanza.
Taking place on December 23rd each year, the holiday was invented as an alternative to Christmas. Frank Costanza came up with the idea, in gloriously Frank Costanza fashion, after punching a man in the face repeatedly over an argument over a doll he was trying to get for George.
“As I rained blows upon him, I realized, ‘There had to be another way!'” Frank recalled.
In terms of how to celebrate the holiday, it involves putting up an aluminum pole instead of a Christmas tree, so as not to taint the home with distracting tinsel. Then at dinner, celebrants engage their Airing of Grievances, in which friends and family tell each other what irritated them about the other person the previous year. Finally, no Festivus is complete without the ritualistic Feats of Strength, in which two participants engage in a wrestling match — in the case of Seinfeld, that usually involved Frank forcing his son to pin him down, much to George’s chagrin.
Now that you know how to celebrate “a Festivus for the rest of us,” have a happy holiday and try not to let the celebrations riven your family in the process. In fact, maybe you should just watch the Seinfeld episode in question with loved ones, rather than telling your own family members and loved ones what irritates you about them and getting in a physical altercation to top it all off.