Festivus for the Rest of Us

An alternative, all-inclusive, unique holiday for people who just don’t fit in

Mikayla Stahl

Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are loved by many, but if you find these holidays to be just too much, and you relate a little more with the Grinch than you do with Cindy Lou Who, then maybe Festivus is right for you.

Festivus was introduced on a popular episode of the hit 1990s comedy show “Seinfeld.” The episode was called “The Strike,” airing in Season 9 Episode 10. The characters in the show were quirky, sarcastic, and quite hilarious people who did not feel jolly about all the traditions that go along with the Christmas holiday. So, one of the character’s family created a new holiday that better suited their personal feelings, even though it was embarassing for that character. The events depicted in the holiday episode were based on the real-life holiday traditions created by Daniel O’Keefe, an author and the father of Dan O’Keefe, one of the writers for “Seinfeld.”
Festivus is a holiday for people who are tired of the expensive commercialization of the holidays and the compulsive need to feel jolly. If you feel overwhelmed by Christmas cheer, then Festivus might be right for you. Festivus has no fancy decorations or gift- giving. In Festivus, the traditional Christmas tree is replaced with a pole. There are also several fun activities to entertain your guests.

The celebration begins with a dinner during which guests participate in the “Airing of Grievances.” This gives everyone the opportunity to say how they might have disappointed each other during the year. This makes for very interesting table conversation and is definitely quite the warm up for the physical challenge of Festivus. After dinner, one of the guests challenges the host to an arm wrestle, called the “Feats of Strength.” Festivus is not complete until the host is pinned to the ground or gives up. Finally, the Festivus celebration concludes with the naming of the “Festivus Miracles,” which consist of any slightly non-routine events from the year, good or bad. You can learn a lot about your guests during the Festivus celebration.

Festivus gained surprising popularity after the airing of the episode. It is now officially celebrated on Dec. 23 as a secular holiday. All are welcome to celebrate Festivus, and its requirements are unlimited. You could even combine it with celebrations you already partake in.

My family has always celebrated a commercialized, secular, version of Christmas with the tree, presents, stockings, and gifts, which we love, but after learning about Festivus a few years ago, we have added to our celebration.

Now, every year, we play the Festivus board game. That’s right, there’s a board game based on the holiday and the Seinfeld episode. Each player is assigned a Festivus pole as a token that works its way around the board game landing on various challenges and everyone competes in all three Festivus activities. It’s silly, but a fun way to add big laughs when we gather with family for our holiday.

If you are someone who’s never found their perfect holiday, doesn’t love the elaborate celebrations, or simply wants to add more to their festivities, then try out Festivus. As it was said in the Seinfeld episode, it’s a Festivus for the Rest of Us.

Happy Celebrations East Lyme!

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