Prepare for the airing of grievances: Wednesday is Festivus

What you need to know about the holiday created by pop culture

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – You might have a friend or co-worker on Wednesday randomly exclaim, “It’s a Festivus miracle!” or challenge you to a feat of strength. Don’t be alarmed – they are just referencing the semi-fictitious holiday Festivus, created by the family of “Seinfeld” writer Dan O’Keefe.

What is Festivus?

Festivus stems directly from the popular sitcom “Seinfeld,” specifically the episode “The Strike.” This episode first aired on NBC on December 18, 1997. Conceived by George Costanza’s father Frank, the holiday’s slogan is “A Festivus for the rest of us.”

What are some of the traditions of Festivus?

One of the most important traditions of Festivus is the Airing of Grievances, where families and friends have an opportunity to tell each other how they were disappointed by that person in the past year.

Following the Airing of Grievances, a Festivus dinner and a Feats of Strength competition take place, where the head of household must be pinned in a wrestling match underneath the Festivus poll.

What inspired Festivus?

The Festivus seen in “Seinfeld” came from Dan O’Keefe, a “Seinfeld” writer whose father invented a similar holiday including an Airing of Grievances and wrestling match in real life. One tradition that didn’t make it to the episode however was O’Keefe’s father putting a clock in a bag and nailing it to a wall.

When does Festivus occur?

In “Seinfeld,” Festivus took place on December 23. However, people have been celebrating the holiday allthrough the month of December since the episode’s airing.

What is served at a Festivus dinner?

Spaghetti or Meatloaf are commonly served items because those were the ones identifiable when Estelle Costanza brought out those dishes during Festivus dinner. However, the O’Keefe family ate turkey or ham with dessert of a cake decorated with M&Ms. Many have chosen to eat foods that were featured in “Seinfeld” like poppyseed bagels or black and white cookies. Whatever you choose to eat is based off of your Festivus denomination.

How many people celebrate Festivus?

While exact numbers are unclear, Festivus has gained widestream popularity over the years. In 2013, an atheist organization erected a Festivus pole constructed of beer cans next to other religious displays at the Florida State Capital building.

Here are some cliff notes for anyone who plans to keep up with any of their friends and family who are celebrating Festivus:

  • You’ll need a Festivus pole. Of course, like everything else, you can buy one online. But, it can be just as easy to create one. Get an aluminum pole in a size that you are comfortable with. Get a stand for said aluminum pole. Done.
  • There will be the Airing of Grievances – kind of like grace but not really. This occurs prior to Festivus Dinner. It is each family member’s opportunity to let them know how much they’ve been disappointed in each other.
  • A Festivus Dinner must be served. In the Seinfeld universe, meat loaf atop a bed of lettuce was the main dish along with spaghetti with a red sauce. And sorry, but no booze is served with dinner (unless you bring a flask). O’Keefe says as a child, it was usually a turkey or ham. Festivus enthusiasts incorporate some of the food that was referenced to in the episodes of Seinfeld.
  • Make sure you put some time in at the gym; otherwise, you won’t be ready for the Feats of Strength. According to Festivus lore, the holiday is not over until the head of the household has been pinned.

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