Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Festivus To All!

Festivus is a secular holiday celebrated on December 23rd. It was created by writer Dan O'Keefe and introduced into popular culture by his son Daniel, a screenwriter for the TV show Seinfeld as part of a comical storyline on the show. The holiday's celebration, as shown on Seinfeld, includes an aluminum "Festivus pole", practices such as the "Airing of Grievances" and the "Feats of Strength", and the labeling of easily explainable events as "Festivus miracles".

In the "Airing of Grievances", which occurs during the Festivus meal, each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed him or her over the past year. A great way to bring loved ones closer together in my opinion. What family wouldn’t benefit from a nice, healthy dose of honesty during the Holidays? Seriously.

After the meal the "Feats of Strength" are performed, involving wrestling the head of the household to the floor, with the holiday ending only if the head of the household is actually pinned. The Holidays just wouldn’t be complete without organized physical confrontation, am I right?

Celebrants of the holiday sometimes refer to it as "Festivus for the rest of us", a saying taken from the O'Keefe family traditions and popularized in the Seinfeld episode to describe Festivus as "another way" to celebrate the season without participating in its pressures and commercialism. God bless the O’Keefe family – we could all learn a thing or two from you folks, as utterly strange as you may be.

Although the original Festivus took place in February 1965, as a celebration of the elder O'Keefe's first date with his future wife, Deborah, it is now celebrated on December 23, as depicted on the December 18, 1997 Seinfeld episode "The Strike”. God I miss Seinfeld. The only thing on TV these days is vacuous reality bullshit.

The original Festivus holiday featured more peculiar practices, as detailed in the younger Daniel O'Keefe's book The Real Festivus. The book provides a first-person account of an early version of the Festivus holiday as celebrated by the O'Keefe family, and how O'Keefe amended or replaced details of his father's invention to create the Seinfeld episode. If you don't already own this book do yourself a favor and buy it. Daniel O’Keefe – you are my hero and your father is brilliant. You may have been scarred for life by this peculiar holiday created and celebrated by your family years ago, but your pain was clearly the rest of the world’s gain.

Happy Festivus to all!

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