How To Celebrate Festivus
With each passing Holiday, it seems more and more like American consumerism knows no bounds. Every superstore begins their holiday-hyping months in advance, and the majority of American consumers spend exuberant amounts of cash fulfilling every advertised need. From thousands of Christmas lights perfectly choreographed, to beating your neighbors bloody for the last honey-glazed ham, it would seem Americans love spending money on holidays almost as much as businesses love exploiting them. The mere opportunity of Black Friday deals turn regular people into riotous mobs, with incidents of trampling becoming commonplace each year. But it was in a similar moment of impassioned consumerism when Frank Costanza, after raining blows upon a rival buyer, realized there had to be another way. Soon after, Festivus was born. “Festivus for the rest of us!”
Introduced to worldwide popular culture in a 1997 episode of Seinfeld, Festivus has become a cult holiday sensation. As shown above, Festivus was created by character Frank Costanza as a secular alternative to the holiday season. Fed up with traditional holiday hoopla, Costanza offered the world a solution to the ever-growing pressures of participating in regular holiday activities. Festivus is, in a way, the holiday in which sweet old Ebenezer Scrooge would have taken part, you know, before he was possessed and brain-washed by demonic spirits. But how does one celebrate Festivus if it is not broadcast on advertisements and draped across storefronts? Well, it’s quite simple.
The first thing you need to know about Festivus is it takes place on December 23, and instead of a fancy tree, candle or golden statue, the cornerstone to any Festivus celebration is an aluminum pole placed in the middle of the family room. “How is it decorated?” you may ask. “Is this pole a spectacle, worthy of neighborhood rivalry and competitive brouhaha?” Absolutely not! Tinsel? Distracting. Presents? Expensive and never appreciated. Tree? Why is there fake vegetation in your home?! All that tree represents is your sell-out nincompoopery!
A single, plain aluminum pole with a high strength-to-weight ratio will be just fine. No other extravagant amenities or gifts are required. Festivus isn’t a time for giving in to the greedy 1% after all. It’s a time for feasting on a delicious turkey and a delectable Pepperidge Farm cake with your friends and family! Oh, and a few more things…
Every holiday has its special moments, and while Festivus forsakes most traditional holiday sentiments, this one is a worthwhile exception. As soon as the Festivus feast is served, the “Airing of Grievances” begins. During this time, you must tell each and every person how he or she has disappointed you over the last year. Prepare these grievances prior to the feast so the most specific of details can be had. No need to worry about making up afterwards, that wishy-washy nonsense is for the commercialist sell-outs!
The most important Festivus activity, however, is the “Feats of Strength.” During this moment, the head of the household selects one person and challenges him or her to a wrestling match. Said person may decline if he/she has something else to do, but tradition dictates that Festivus cannot end until the head of the household is defeated a la pinning. After the “Airing of Grievences,” this particular event can become quite impassioned, but the physicality helps take out everything you’ve dealt with and pent up with the people you love most.
Festivus is the holiday for the rest of us. It is a time when family and friends can come together and celebrate a holiday without the pressure and frivolity of gift giving, oppressive rituals or decorative competition. It is a time when miracles are declared at vaguely coincidental happenings. It is a time to celebrate love, resentment, and wrestling without giving your hard-earned money to the consumer machines. Charlie Brown and company lamented commercialism with a heartwarming Christmas special, but Festivus treats the holiday disease instead of its symptoms. May we all remember Festivus, and may God help us the day Wal-Mart starts selling aluminum poles at everyday low prices. Happy Holidays!