Happy Festivus! You probably know about Festivus – celebrated on December 23 – from watching the famous episode of Seinfeld about the holiday. In the show, Frank Costanza brings up haunting childhood memories of the holiday to his son George, including the “airing of grievances” and “feats of strength.”
But did you know that Festivus has been around for over 50 years?
Let’s take a deeper look at the origins and meaning of the quirky, alternative holiday.
When is Festivus?
Festivus is celebrated on December 23 each year.
What is Festivus?
What is the meaning of Festivus? Festivus is a secular (non-religious) holiday celebration without the typical commercial and religious pressures associated with Christmas.
The TV show Seinfeld brought the holiday to broad public attention in 1997, characterizing it as a parody holiday.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the holiday of Festivus.
What day does Festivus fall on this year?
Festivus falls on December 23rd each year. Check out the chart below to find what day that is for the current year:
- Wednesday, December 23, 2020
- Thursday, December 23, 2021
- Friday, December 23, 2022
- Saturday, December 23, 2023
- Monday, December 23, 2024
- Tuesday, December 23, 2025
Who invented Festivus? How was Festivus created?
Daniel O’Keefe originally created Festivus in 1966 as a tribute to his wife Deborah on the anniversary of their first date. O’Keefe was an author and editor at Reader’s Digest for over 30 years.
Seinfeld TV show connection to the Holiday
Fast-forward to 1997. O’Keefe’s son, Dan O’Keefe, a writer on Seinfeld, used his father’s holiday—and his family’s history of celebrations of it—as inspiration, writing Festivus into an episode of the show called “The Strike.”
The popularity of Festivus took off from there, becoming part of popular culture and a new holiday for the rest of us to celebrate.
What are the rules and customary practices of Festivus?
These are the rituals of Festivus as seen in the 1997 episode of Seinfeld called “The Strike.”
- Festivus Dinner – Family and friends gather around the dinner table for a meal in celebration of the holiday.
- The Festivus Pole – An unadorned aluminum pole is set up to celebrate Festivus, in contrast to the garish, tinsel-adorned Christmas trees in many homes.
- Airing of Grievances – During the Festivus meal, each person announces all the ways each of the others around the table have disappointed them over the past year.
- Festivus Miracles – In the Seinfeld episode featuring Festivus, Cosmo Kramer declares a “Festivus Miracle” for easily explainable events in celebration of the holiday.
- Feats of Strength – After the Festivus meal, challengers try to wrestle the head of the household to the floor. The holiday ends only if the head of the household gets pinned.
Seinfeld “Festivus” Episode Excerpt Video
What is the Festivus slogan?
The original creator of Festivus and his family used the phrase “A Festivus for the rest of us” after the death of his wife in 1976.
In the seminal Seinfeld episode, Frank Costanza describes to Kramer how the idea of Festivus came to him. Many Christmasses ago, he was fighting off another customer to buy a doll for his son George. The doll got destroyed. In the aftermath, he explains, “I realized there had to be another way. But out of that, a new holiday was born. A Festivus for the rest of us!”
How does Festivus end?
Festivus ends with the Feats of Strength. Challengers to the head of the household try to wrestle him to the floor. When the head of the household is pinned, Festivus is over.
Check out 173 Funny Drinking Toasts
What is the Festivus Google Easter egg?
The folks at Google added an “Easter egg” to their search browser every time you use the search term “Festivus.” You’ll see a large Festivus aluminum pole to the left of your search results. Try it yourself and see!
- Weren’t there feats of strength that always ended up with you crying?
Jerry Seinfeld to George Costanza
- A Festivus for the rest of us!
- At the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year.
- Let’s do it then! Festivus is back! I’ll get the pole out of the crawl space.
- George, Festivus is your heritage. It’s part of who you are.
- I find tinsel distracting.
Frank Costanza on why the Festivus pole is bare
- It’s a Festivus Miracle!
- Until you pin me, George, Festivus is not over! Let’s rumble!
- Oh, please, somebody stop this!
- This is the best Festivus ever!
- All I’m saying is, if you celebrate Festivus, you may live longer.
- Have we accidentally invented a cult?
Dan O’Keefe, the originator of Festivus
Tips for celebrating
- It’s essential to have a nice pole with a good “strength-to-weight” ratio. Aluminum works best. It should be about seven feet high. IMPORTANT: Do not decorate the pole. Tinsel is distracting.
- No gifts, please.
- Prepare in advance for the “feats of strength” portion of the holiday celebration. See the list below.
- Invite guests to see the pole.
- The host welcomes guests before dinner and starts with airing grievances.
- Look for Festivus miracles throughout the celebration.
Festivus Greetings – Happy Festivus
- A Festivus for the rest of us.
- Happy Festivus!
- May the joy of the Festivus season be with you all year long.
- Merry Festivus Wishes!
- “Tis the Festivus season!
- Warmest greetings this Festivus season.
- May your Festivus be filled with true miracles.
Feats of Strength Ideas
- Thumb wrestling – you know, “1,2,3,4 I declare a thumb war.” It’s a suitable feat of strength that won’t likely result in any injuries.
- Leg wrestling – move the coffee table to the side and have at it.
- Balancing act – See who can stand on one leg the longest without losing balance.
- Arm wrestling – Keep those elbows flat on the table surface.
- Wall squat endurance contest – Determine who can stay in a squat position leaned up against a wall the longest.
- Play Fibbage – The online TV game made by Jackbox Games is a fun one to play with a small group.
- Red Hands – The hand slap game can result in some sore hands and hurt feelings but makes a good addition. One player extends hands with palms up, the second player places hands on top palms down. The player with hands palm up must hit the second player’s hands before she moves them away.
By Brian Herman
Brian writes about entertainment, pop culture, and TV.
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