And out of that, Festivus was born. If you “hate all the commercial and religious aspects of Christmas,” there’s a holiday for the rest of us. Every December 23, Seinfeld fans come together to celebrate the wonders of Festivus, a Christmas alternative originally dreamed up by Seinfeld writer Dan O’Keefe’s dad when Dan was a kid, and popularized on the hit sitcom’s 1997 episode “The Strike.”
In order to observe the miracle of Festivus with friends and family, there are certain traditions you must abide by as laid down by George’s father Frank Costanza. Let’s do it then, let’s throw a Festivus party right at home in your apartment.
The Festivus Pole
You cannot have a proper Festivus without an authentic Festivus Pole in your apartment. According to Frank, “It requires not decoration; I find tinsel distracting. It’s made from aluminum. Very high strength-to-weight ratio.”
In the episode, the pole is an approximately six-or-seven-foot tall metal pipe. For those looking for the perfect Festivus Pole, you can buy one online at festivuspoles.com or on Amazon. But as the point of Festivus is to eschew commerciality, feel free to be creative.
An old lamp pole or curtain rod will suffice. To make your pole stand freely, you’ll need to make a base. Here’s a pretty easy DIY treatment. And when Festivus is over, all you have to do is put it back in your crawlspace!
Airing of Grievances
The traditional Festivus party, according to the Costanzas, begins with the Airing of Grievances. Sit your friends and family down at the Festivus dinner table and “tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year.”
Unless you’re as curmudgeonly as Frank, you probably don’t want to offend everyone. Have fun with the Airing. Read aloud from a list of minor offenses everyone has been guilty of over the last year.
Tell your roommate how poorly they load the dishwasher or let your cousin know you’ve seen him take up two spaces in the mall parking lot. Or to get the whole group involved, have everyone write a grievance on a slip of paper, put them in a hat and read them out loud anonymously.
The Festivus Dinner
The centerpiece of any great Festivus party is the classic Festivus dinner. Pay homage by recreating the same meal George, Elaine, Jerry, Kramer and their friends had in the episode.
The platter George’s mom, Estelle, delivers from the kitchen appears to be some sort of sliced meatloaf with a red sauce sitting on a bed of lettuce, with sides of peas and mashed potatoes. No one really knows what they’re eating, so go to town with your best ideas.
For drinks, spice it up by serving everyone their beverages (alcoholic or non, up to you) in hip flasks just like the one George’s boss Mr. Kruger uses in the show.
If mystery meatloaf isn’t your thing, hold a potluck and have everyone bring their favorite Seinfeld food. Suggestions include lobster bisque, fusilli pasta, a big salad and chips and dip (for double dipping). For dessert, have someone snag some black and white cookies or a nice chocolate babka. Just don’t serve them out of the trash can.
Feats of Strength
After the meal has concluded, Festivus rolls on with the Feats of Strength. Each year, a different Festivus guest receives the honor of battling the host, so pick one of your loved ones from around the table to take you on in a living room wrestling match.
Of course, depending on your level of commitment, the Feats of Strength doesn’t have to be a physical scuffle. Make yours a thumb or arm wrestling bout or compete head-to-head in a video game as everyone cheers you on. Or make your Feat one of Mental Strength and have a trivia contest or a round of 20 questions. Just remember, until the challenger defeats the host, Festivus is not over!
However you decide to observe Festivus, just enjoy because – no offense – this holiday is a little out there.