Each year on December 23rd, Festivus commemorates a holiday episode of the television comedy, Seinfeld. In 1997, the popular television comedy brought Festivus to the masses when Frank Costanza (played by Jerry Stiller) explains he invented the holiday in response to the commercialism of Christmas. Its slogan is “A Festivus for the rest of us.”
Sitcoms often combine holidays and family discord. However, one only has to look to our own families to find a little humor. This holiday reminds us how easily we take things too seriously at times. Politics, traditions, grudges and more lead us down unintended paths. Sometimes those paths turn out to be quite the hilarious turn of events. Well, hopefully, they’re more hilarious than not. At least while watching through the magnifying glass of the Seinfeld episode safely from our homes, we see a bit of our selves and those we hold dear.
HOW TO OBSERVE FESTIVUS
Festivus traditions derived from the television episode and the original creator have been combined over the years.
- Adorn an aluminum Festivus pole to be displayed in the home. In the O’Keefe household, there was no pole. Instead, a clock was placed in a bag and nailed to the wall.
- Serve a traditional dinner in the evening.
- During dinner, allow the Airing of Grievances. Each person takes turns describing how the others have disappointed him or her over the past year.
- Feats of Strength follows dinner and involves wrestling the head of the household. Note: The holiday is not complete unless the head of the household is pinned. Failure to pin the head of the household could result in perpetual Festivus.
- Festivus Miracle – a frequent if unimpressive miracle. You may count carrying all the groceries into the house for dinner without tripping or dropping one of the bags as a Festivus Miracle.
While watching the Seinfeld episode, count the number of miracles. Pick up an aluminum pole. Decorate it. Let the Airing of Grievances begin and celebrate. Use #Festivus to post on social media.
Daniel O’Keefe, Reader’s Digest editor and author, created the holiday in response to family tension. One of its central practices is the “airing of grievances.” He first celebrated the day in February of 1966. But later, the day was recognized as it is now, on December 23 in honor of O’Keefe’s first date with his future wife. O’Keefe’s son wrote the Seinfeld episode featuring the celebration.
December 23rd Celebrated (And Not So Celebrated) History
The Sentinel newspaper of Troy, New York anonymously publishes the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” In 1944, at his children’s insistence, Clement Moore steps forward as the author of the poem. He had written it on Christmas Eve in 1922 for his children. Since then, the poem has defined the world’s idea of Santa Claus, his spirit, and even his reindeer.
President Woodrow Wilson signs the Federal Reserve Act creating the Federal Reserve System.
The three-person crew of the Apollo 8 spacecraft mission became the first people to orbit the moon. Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders spent six days in space.
Construction of the World Trade Center’s North Tower reaches its pinnacle making it the tallest building in the world until the Sears Tower in Chicago overtakes it in 1973.
Green Card premieres in Los Angeles and New York City. The dramedy starring Gerard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell tells the story of a marriage of convenience. Two strangers marry so the Frenchman can stay in the United States, but it turns into something more. Peter Weir directs the Golden Globe-winning film.
December 23rd Celebrated (And Not So Celebrated) Birthdays
Joseph Smith – 1805
In 1827, after reportedly being visited by an angel, Smith translated a manuscript known today as the Book of Mormon. He would organize The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and lead many followers across the country to a settlement in Nauvoo, IL. A mob would kill Smith and his brother on June 27, 1844.
Madam C.J. Walker – 1867
Born Sarah Breedlove, the American innovator and businesswoman became the first Black millionaire in the United States. She launched a line of hair care products and a sales method that employed thousands of women.
Anna Jane Harrison – 1912
In 1978, the American Chemical Society elected Harrison as their first woman president. Harrison had spent the previous 41 years as a researcher and educator with several colleges and worked for the National Defense Research Council and Corning Glass Works.
Bob Kahn – 1939
The electrical engineer’s contributions to computer technology include communication protocols essential to the Internet. President Bill Clinton awarded the National Medal of Technology to Kahn and Vinton Cerf in 1997 for founding and developing the Internet. Kahn was also presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 by President George Bush.
Eddie Vedder – 1964
Since 1990, the musician has served as Pearl Jam’s lead vocalist.