Friday, December 08, 2006

Festivus 101

This time of year, many of our thoughts turn to family and friends. And all the ways they have disappointed us over the past year. Yes, faithful readers, Festivus is just around the corner. So get the pole out of the crawlspace and begin preparing your list of grievances.

I am planning on hosting my second annual Festivus at Bone's celebration this year. Details are still being worked out by my assistant, Darren.

To tide you over, today I'm bringing back something I originally posted a couple of years ago. For you newcomers, hopefully it will explain some of the traditions and history behind this wonderful holiday. And for the rest of us (get it?), consider it a quick refresher course. It's all part of my neverending quest to be the #1 blog for all things Festivus.

Have a great weekend. And remember, just fifteen days until Festivus

Early days
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 your Festivus celebration. Since those early days, I daresay tens upon tens of Seinfeld fans have begun celebrating Festivus each year. Now let's look at some Festivus traditions.

The Aluminum Pole
One of the most common questions I get about Festivus is, "Is there a tree?" The answer is no. Instead of a tree, all you need for Festivus is an aluminum pole. It requires no decoration, as the founder of Festivus 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
Again, in the words of our founder, Frank Costanza: "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!"

Once everyone is seated for 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. Maybe the most integral.

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.

The Festivus Dinner
After everyone has had an opportunity to air their grievances, it is likely that no one will be speaking to each other for awhile. This is the perfect time to enjoy your Festivus Dinner in peace.

The Festivus Dinner may be composed of anything. Many suggest non-traditional holiday foods, such as spaghetti, meatloaf, or pizza.

The Feats of Strength
Once everyone has eaten, it's time for the finale of the Festivus celebration, the "feats of strength." This 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.

Other info
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.

"It was back when I'd still get things from Santa Claus. Back when he believed in me and overlooked the flaws, that can grow inside until it hides the perfect little boy inside the man..."


  1. Every year I say I'm going to come but can't make it. This is the year...I'm coming!

  2. When the search words on your website stats begin to include things like "festivus the human fund card," "festivus feats of strength," and "festivus dinner," that can only mean one thing. That's right! You blog entirely too much about Seinfeld.

    You had it right the first time around, Bone. ;)

  3. Is alcohol allowed at Festivus? Just wondering.

  4. I always win at leg wrestling. This is my kinda holiday.

  5. heather b.- as i understand it, alcohol is the lifeblood of festivus. ;)

    i am SO there. i've been talking up festivus all over town. i'm even going to a real live festivus party. i am making my grievance list!

  6. OMG, I love that episode and I'm excited you're having a Festivus celebration. Hooray!

    My husband and I refer to that episode this time of the year...heck his mom makes references to that episode too! LOL.

    I plan to attend and will have a list of grievances to boot.

  7. Lindsy: Yeah, we were all sad last year when you didn't show up. Or, just I was sad.

    Traveling Chica: :) Well, at least I know you click on the old posts I link to.

    Heather B: Is alcohol involved? You think I was sober when I wrote this post?

    Lux Lisbon: Hmm, I'm not sure I know what leg wrestling is. Care to elaborate?

    Ms. Sizzle? You are?! That's exciting. The Airing of Grievances was absolutely the best part of my first Festivus party last year.

    Chickadee: Your husband and mother-in-law reference Seinfeld? I'd say you chose the right family :)

  8. Of course I do! You go to the trouble to link 'em, I should go to the trouble to read them, right?

    Hmm, now that I write that, perhaps I am a bit strange...

  9. The airing of the grievances sounds like any dinner with my family, except when we're on our best behavior. Then only one is allowed per person per dinner.

    Find it very interesting that the airing of the grievances was the best part of your party last year. Very interesting Bone, indeed

  10. What fun! Festivus! I sure wish I could make it! I remember reading about last year's party, and it seems like so much fun! The one thing this does not address though is the dress code for Festivus? Causual, business, formal? Jeans?

  11. You've been a hit today on my blog . . .

  12. I didn't notice any dancing at the Festivus I guess you get to miss me doing that...even for money.

    I'm not sure if DH would be able to find enough people to invite to a Festivus party here. But I'll see if he would like to hold one anyway. Oh wait! My youngest brother will be in town...we could do it then! That would produce lots of grievances.

  13. Are you re-using the Festivus pole from last year? I just want to avoid a last-minute scramble to secure a pole like last year. The other reason I ask is that last year's pole wasn't conducive to pole dancing (in case that happens).

  14. Traveling Chica: Nah, it's the blogosphere. No one is strange... or maybe we're all strange :)

    Pia: Well, we did have one married couple present last year. So, that was a lot of fun. And, they're still married :)

    Lass: That's because there is no dress code for Festivus. Personally, I would stay away from reds, greens, and any type of sweatshirt with snowmen or Santa on it :)

    East of Oregon: Oh really? I noticed I had gotten several hits from your site. Thanks again for the mention :)

    Renee: Well, there you go! It's another Festivus miracle :) Small numbers are OK. We only had eight at my first annual Festivus party last year. I'm hoping to double that number this year.

    J-Mo: Yes, I was planning on reusing the Festivus pole. That thing cost my like seventeen bucks, with the stand and all :) Although you do make a good point about the pole dancing.

  15. I'm going with we all are.

  16. I definitely think this is a holiday bash I can appreciate. I'll be checking back to see when to arrive. I'm wondering if I need to bring anything. Is that a requirement for Festivus?

  17. I think that DH is worried I'll kick his rear at the Feats of Strenght. Or maybe he's worried about my grievances? He says he doesn't want a Festivus party.

    Oh wait a minute...DH hates ALL kinds of Parties. He's an introvert. Oh well.

  18. Sounds like a great new tradition--created by counselors and lawyers who have an opportunity to reap big benefits from the honest "airing of grievances."

  19. I know when I think of Festivus, the first thing I think of is Seinfeld, and the next, Bone. :)

  20. I'm gonna have to get your blog feed figured out. I am missing too much here!!! I almost missed the Festivus party!! That would have been awful!!

  21. Traveling Chica: I know I am.

    Zeus: Well, judging by my first Festivus party last year, no one brings anything :)

    Renee: It's probably the grievances. But it's good to clear the air once a year. At least, it worked for the Costanzas...

    Sage: Haha. The grievances can be like built-in therapy. Or, they could require more therapy.

    Carmen: Now that's what I'm talking about!

    Jennifer: I think my feed is messed up. Just check back every couple of days. I usually post 3-4 times a week :)

  22. Okay, this has me laughing. My teenage sons will be so into this. They'll fight and pin me and their father for the chance to then fight each other, but only after airing a multitude of grievances.

    I think a bonfire might fit into these proceedings, but I'm not sure where. But maybe someone would burn the house down.