I was mailing out my Human Fund cards yesterday and I realized that it would be appropriate to do a blog entry about the holiday of Festivus. Hopefully, for those who are new to the holiday, I can enlighten you by sharing some of the traditions and history behind this wonderful day.
The holiday of Festivus can trace it's beginnings back to 1997, and "The Strike" episode of Seinfeld. The founder of Festivus is Frank Costanza. The Queens, New York, resident had become fed up with all the commercial and religious aspects of Christmas.
Let's hear how it all began in Frank's own words: "Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reach for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows opon him, I realized there had to be another way! The doll was destroyed. But out of that, a new holiday was born, A Festivus For The Rest Of Us!"
Although not required, you may choose to have someone recite this most famous of all quotes before beginning the Festivus celebration. Since those early days, I daresay tens of Seinfeld fans and others have begun celebrating Festivus each year. Now let's look at some Festivus traditions:
The Aluminum Pole
"Is there a tree?" Well, that is one of the most common questions I get about Festivus. The answer is no. Instead of a tree, all you need for Festivus is an aluminum pole. It requires no decoration, as the Festivus founder found tinsel distracting. Unlike a heavily decorated, lighted tree, the pole will not take away from the real meaning and other aspects of the holiday. Aluminum was chosen because of it's very high strength-to-weight ratio. The Festivus Pole should be placed in clear view of everyone taking part in the Festivus celebration. Another part of the genius in choosing an aluminum pole is that it's very easy to take down, and may be kept in a crawl space or some other small out-of-the-way storage area.
The Airing of Grievances
Once everyone is seated at the Festivus Dinner, it's time to tell your family (and other guests) all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year. This is known as the "airing of grievances." It's an integral part of the holiday. Each person should have an opportunity to voice any gripes, complaints, or problems they have with any other person present at the dinner. Traditionally, the airing of grievances begins with the host or head of household. It might begin something like this: "Welcome, newcomers. The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances. I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you're gonna hear about it!"
The Feats of Strength
Once everyone has eaten, it's time for the finale of the Festivus celebration, the "feats of strength." This is probably the most entertaining part of Festivus. The feats of strength is a physical contest between two people. Traditionally, the head of household will choose someone at the dinner for the honor of taking part in the feats of strength. Those two will then engage in a phsycial battle, described by some as a primitive form of wrestling. Festivus is not over until the head of household has been pinned. Some neo-Fesivites have altered the rules to allow any two people at the Festivus dinner to take part in the "feats of strength." This is OK, as long as two basic rules are adhered to. (1)Two, and only two, persons should participate in the feats of strength. (Otherwise, everyone is fighting, and there is mayhem. And mayhem has no part in Festivus.) (2)Festivus is not over until someone is pinned.
Festivus is traditionally celebrated on December 23rd. However, since at it's core, Festivus is dissident and unconventional, it may be celebrated on any day. After all, it's not about giving reverence to a particular day. It's about... well, I'm not sure what it's about. But here's hoping you have the best Festivus ever, and may you come out on top in the Feats of Strength.
"Since we've no place to go, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow..."