It was created by writer Dan O'Keefe in 1966 with the intention of setting a day to spend in the company of loved ones during the holidays, but without all the consumerist aspects that now characterize the Christmas season.
No nativity scene or decorated tree with lights and colored balls, the only symbol that identifies this day is a completely bare aluminum rod. It remained almost completely unknown for decades. The Festivus was brought to the attention of the general public in 1997 by an episode of the American TV series Seinfeld.
Google, perhaps to pay tribute to the recent death of its creator O'Keefe, has chosen to integrate into the search engine a new fun decoration. Typing the word "Festivus" in the search results page show a special decoration of the bare aluminum rod.
For several weeks already, the adorned pines are flooding your Facebook feeds and with them the smell of hot wine mingles with the more or less happy interpretations of snow star. Christmas is approaching and in television it translates into a banquet more or less digest of Christmas specials. Like oysters we like or hate and if, as Wikipedia informs me, there is a disturbing multifactorial excess of mortality of the marine molluscs since 2008.
What to do? Make a hit parade of the best episodes and compare them with their off-season counterparts (St. Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Thanksgiving or Halloween)? Seeking to analyze the links between commerce and television, compile a wish list from product placements or merely transcribe the good feelings disappear after dark on the last page of our calendars. You'll understand, none of that. It is to a seasonal tale to which you are invited, on a feast day to celebrate, an alternative to the files of Manor, the crises of foie gras and the divine child.
The origins of this tradition are multiple and the rites that compose it differ according to the narratives. I am talking about a time when phones had no screens, that were tactile and were not portable. The only app was in a transparent plastic wheel that must be rotated to dial the number, one number at a time.
We are in Christmas Eve in New York, where Frank Costanza is looking for a gift to offer his son George. The object of covetousness finally presents itself to him, as he places his hand on a doll, the last of the ray. Another man takes hold of it at the same time and there is an altercation. While the blows rain from Frank's hand, he wonders if an alternative is not possible. The doll was destroyed and Festivus was born.
It is often said here and there that Frank would have exclaimed "A Festivus for the rest of us" as a rallying cry for lay people and other skeptics of Christmas. It is also said that if he is responsible for his popularization (Seinfeld Season 9, Episode 10, 1997), some of the rituals of Festivus were inherited from a tradition of the O'Keefe family.
The feast day did not yet have a definite date and it took place in response to family events. According to Daniel O'Keefe (father of screenwriter Seinfeld, Dan), "A Festivus for the rest of us" would have been pronounced in reference to the death of his mother and the first Festivus would have been held in 1966 in celebration of his first Appointment with his future wife.
Daniel O'Keefe is dead today, Seinfeld aired its final episode in 1998, but the horde of heathens celebrating Festivus increases. It is now celebrated on December 23 in response to the religious and consumerist nature of Christmas. Thus, it is not unusual to see the Festivus poles flourish alongside the scenes of nativity in the public spaces in order to advocate the separation between the government and the religion.
If you are attracted to the idea of a day of simple and sincere party, here are customs to observe :
The 4 pillars (and half) of Festivus
I. The aluminum pole/stick
In direct response to the Christmas tree, an aluminum pole (Festivus pole) is the totemic symbol of Festivus. It should be highlighted in the center of the room on December 23rd only. It is strictly forbidden to decorate it. Also, it will be preferable to reuse a curtain rod, stack empty cans of beer or any other object that does not require any expense or unnecessary work.
II. The Festivus meal
There is no typical dish for the Festivus meal, but to keep in mind, one will advise something easy to prepare and inexpensive, with pasta or frozen food are excellent candidates. They will be served on cardboard plates or in the case of frozen foods, in their original packaging. Fast food is also a possibility.
III. Airing of Grievances
The airing of grievances takes place as soon as the meal ends. For the guests, it is a question of communicating in turn the different ways in which they were disappointed by the other guests during the year. Although some modern practices tend to allow more cautious guests to anonymously write two or three grievances on a sheet and then place them in a hat and then be drawn at random, the dogma would want them to be expressed face to face.
IV. The feast of strength
The feast of strength is the recreational pillar of Festivus. The host chooses an opponent around the table, the opponent must struggle and succeed in plating the host's two shoulders to the ground. Festivus continues as long as this condition is not fulfilled. The chosen person can decline if she has better things to do.
V. The miracles of Festivus
Feel free to focus on any miracle of Festivus. A miracle of Festivus is every ordinary event and easily explained.
Think outside the box, Happy Festivus!