My favorite holiday is gaining in popularity every year and after many years of celebrating it privately I have decided to come out from behind the aluminum pole and go public. The holiday is Festivus, reportedly created by writer Dan O’Keefe for the Seinfeld television show but supposedly celebrated in his family as early as 1966. It was first aired on the Seinfeld show in 1997 and since then has warmed the hearts of millions of people worldwide.
Initially the celebration was intended to counter the excessive commercialism of the holiday season when people spent more money than they had, stood outside stores all night to save a few dollars on a television set, or wrestled others to get a doll. The idea initially was to hold a dinner in which family and friends could air grievances against one another,engage in feats of strength such as arm wrestling, and dance around a Festivus pole (aluminum and with no adornments). The classic Seinfeld dinner scene had Frank Costanza hurling insults as others gathered around the table, cringing and awaiting their turns.
Festivus is now celebrated around the world, traditionally on December 23rd. I am proposing a slightly expanded version of the holiday since I believe restricting its celebration only to families is not enough. We need to expand its message to a world sorely in need of its healing powers (sometimes referred to as “Festivus Miracles.”) So, here’s my plan.
At one minute past midnight on December 23, all residents of any village, town, or city gather in the town square around a large Festivus pole which has no decorations but perhaps one light at the very top. Persons are then encouraged to dance around the pole shouting insults at family, friends and politicians–the louder the better so the air can be full of holiday cheer. As the insults gain in volume, at exactly 12:30, persons are encouraged to throw mud pies (previously handed out)at anyone who has not yet joined in the dance, encouraging them to share their grievances as well. By 1 a.m., a siren sounds, calling everyone to observe a moment of non-denominational prayer (although under the rules persons holding grievances against any religion are permitted to voice their concerns). Then participants are invited to eat together in any participating restaurants where they are encouraged to keep the insults going around a hot meal of Festivus burgers, French fries, and steaming hot cider.
My thesis is that such a celebration would go a long way toward reducing tensions between individuals, families, and even nations. The joy of going public with one’s deepest grievances would provide such relief that on the day after Festivus a calmness would descend, crimes and wars stopped, and no special sales would be held in stores. The final Festivus post-holiday ritual would require people to gather once again in the square to hold hands and sing very happy songs.
(My Festivus pole. I have attached my ethnic hat–Welsh–on the top so that I might scream insults in Welsh, a language which few people know but which has strong, guttural qualities that are said to frighten off even wolves)