What is festivus? The holiday made popular by Seinfeld and how Scrooges can celebrate it

The term festivus was made popular by the comedy show Seinfeld   (Columbia Pictures)
The term festivus was made popular by the comedy show Seinfeld (Columbia Pictures)

For those less enthused about the magic of Christmas, insert festivus.

Festivus is a secular holiday which offers an alternative to the pressures of the Christmas season.

For those who look at Christmas as less of a traditional time and more of a commercial holiday, festivus would be more up their alley.

The day is celebrated on December 23 by those who want to embrace their inner “Bah Humbug”.

But what is festivus and how do you celebrate it?

The Seinfeld link

The term festivus was made public thanks to a Seinfeld episode entitled The Strike.

Series writer Dan O’Keefe used inspiration from his childhood experiences to include the unlikely holiday in the hit TV series after his father invented the holiday back in the 1960s.

Speaking about his unusual upbringing and even stranger annual holiday, O’Keefe said in an interview with the Associated Press: “As a kid, we’d come home and there’d be weird decorations.

“There was the playing of strange German and Italian pop music from the Fifties. And the airing of grievances was a real thing.”

How to celebrate festivus

According to O’Keefe and the Seinfeld episode, instead of a festive-looking Christmas tree, an aluminium pole which is decoration-free is used instead.

This is because “tinsel is too distracting” says Frank Costanza in the Seinfeld episode.

For grub, there will be no turkey with all the trimmings but rather meatloaf.

In addition to no Christmas tree or traditional food, there is also the “airing of grievances”, which involves family members airing their dirty laundry and discussing any pent-up feelings of hostility they may have towards another family member. Hmm, no different to a traditional family Christmas then.

This is then followed by a “feats of strength” wrestling match, requiring one family member to pin down the family patriarch or host by a guest to summon the end to the bizarre ritual that is known as festivus.

Journalist Allen Salkin describes it as “the perfect secular theme for an all-inclusive December gathering”.

Regardless of what you may call it, it’s the perfect non-traditional holiday for the Scrooges out there.