Happy Festivus... for the Rest of Us!
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"Happy Festivus" is the traditional greeting of Festivus a holiday featured in "The Strike" episode of Seinfeld. The episode first aired on December 18, 1997. Since then many people have been inspired by this zany, offbeat Seinfeld holiday and they now celebrate Festivus as any other holiday.
According to the Seinfeld model, Festivus is celebrated each year on December 23rd. However many people celebrate it other times in December and even at other times throughout the year.
The slogan of Festivus is "A Festivus for the rest of us!" The usual holiday tradition of a tree is manifested in an unadorned aluminum pole, which is in direct contrast to normal holiday materialism. Those attending Festivus may also participate in the "Airing of Grievances" which is an opportunity to tell others how they have disappointed you in the past year, followed by a Festivus dinner, and then completed by the "Feats of Strength" where the head of the household must be pinned. All of these traditions are based upon the events in the Seinfeld episode, however, strangely enough, Festivus has roots that pre-date Seinfeld.
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Seinfeld Episode: "The Strike"
The Seinfeldian origins of the Festivus celebration can be dated back to the 9th season episode titled "The Strike". In this episode Frank Costanza expresses a concern over the increased commercialism and consumerism that tends to saturate the December holiday season.
In this episode, Frank Costanza tells the story of a routine outing to secure a Christmas gift for his son George where he came to the realization that there should be a new holiday:
Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?
Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born … a Festivus for the rest of us!
Cosmo Kramer: That must have been some kind of doll.
Frank Costanza: She was.
(... more quotes)
In the episode, Kramer becomes interested in resurrecting the holiday after hearing about the plight of his friend—Frank Costanza's son—George (played by Jason Alexander).
Meanwhile George uses Festivus, that he once hated in his youth, as a defensive excuse to his boss, Mr. Kruger (played by Daniel von Bargen). George had been confronted by Kruger after handing out cards for Christmas to his fellow employees stating a donation had been made to a fake charity (invented by George) called The Human Fund (with the slogan "Money For People") in lieu of exchanging Christmas presents. George defended himself saying that he feared persecution for his beliefs, for not celebrating Christmas. Attempting to call his bluff, Kruger came home with George to see Festivus in action.
Kramer, who was also invited to the celebration, goes on strike from his bagel vendor job, when his manager tells him he can't get time off for "Festivus." Kramer is then seen on the street with a sign which reads "Festivus yes! Bagels no!"
Main Elements of a Seinfeld Festivus
The Festivus episode of Seinfeld ("The Strike") reveals that the Festivus celebration includes four main components:
The Festivus Pole: The Costanzas' tradition begins with an aluminum pole, which Frank praises for its "very high strength-to-weight ratio." During Festivus, the unadorned Festivus Pole is displayed. The pole was chosen apparently in opposition to the commercialization of highly decorated Christmas trees, because it is "very low-maintenance," and also because the holiday's patron, Frank Costanza, "finds tinsel distracting." (Read More)
The Airing of Grievances: At the beginning of the Festivus dinner, each participant tells friends and family of all the instances where they disappointed him or her that year. As quoted from Frank Costanza: "I've got a lot of problems with you people, and now you're going to hear about it!" (Read More)
Festivus dinner: In "The Strike," a celebratory dinner is shown on the evening of Festivus prior to the Feats of Strength. IN the edpisode the meal appeared to be meat loaf or spaghetti in a red sauce. No alcohol was served, but George Costanza's boss, Mr. Kruger, drank from a flask. (Read More)
The Feats of Strength: After the dinner, the head of the household tests his or her strength against one participant of the head's choosing. Festivus is not considered over until the head of the family has been pinned. However, a participant may be allowed to decline to attempt to pin the head of the household only if they have something better to do instead. (Read More)
The Festivus Miracle
Although it is not an official element of the holiday or its celebration, the phenomenon of the Festivus Miracle is mentioned twice in the original episode. An obvious sendup to the phrase "Christmas Miracle", both manifestations of Seinfeld's "Festivus Miracle" were caused by Kramer. In today's society the use of the term "Festivus Miracle" has become far more mainstream. (Read More)
The Real Festivus
The Festivus idea originally came to Seinfeld writer Dan O'Keefe from a tradition started by his father Daniel O'Keefe. The elder O'Keefe had discovered the Festivus holiday in a book, published in 1966, that outlined obscure holidays. (Read More)
The Human Fund
"The Human Fund" is a fake charity used used by George Costanza. Instead of buying Christmas gifts for his coworkers, he gave a card that stated that a donation had been made to a charity called "The Human Fund". The slogan of the Human Fund was "Money For People". It was such a good scam that George's boss, Mr. Kruger gave George a company check for $20,000 to "The Human Fund". Later, the accounting department informs Kruger the charity doesn't exist, causing a chain of events that sees George inviting Kruger to his father's Festivus celebration. (Read More)