Tomorrow shall be the day to air grievances. That’s right, Festivus, made popular by the iconic 90s series Seinfeld, is upon us. The fictional holiday of Festivus, per the famous sitcom episode, takes place on December 23rd. It involves a Festivus dinner, a simple aluminum Festivus pole, unique customs like the “airing of grievances” and “feats of strength”, and the designation of ordinary occurrences as “Festivus miracles.” The episode humorously refers to it as “a Festivus for the rest of us.”
The holiday of Festivus gained popularity through the Seinfeld episode titled “The Strike.” Inspired by real-life events, writer Dan O’Keefe introduced this holiday to our television screens. O’Keefe’s father created Festivus in the 1960s as a way to embrace the season without the commercialism or religious obligations of Christmas. In the Seinfeld universe, Festivus is celebrated annually on December 23, although O’Keefe’s family treated it as a flexible holiday tradition.
‘Seinfeld’s Festivus was Subdued Compared to the Real Life Original Version
“It was entirely more peculiar than on the show,” O’Keefe once revealed. However, O’Keefe confessed that the tradition of airing grievances, where the family shares disappointments from the year, and the wrestling matches were indeed inspired by real-life events. He added that instead of a pole, there was a clock concealed in a bag. However, the symbolism of this his father never disclosed. Interestingly, the phrase, “A Festivus for the Rest of Us,” actually has a poignant origin. It served as a motto for the family following the passing of O’Keefe’s mother. It signified a celebration of life for those still with us.
During a CNN segment in 2013, O’Keefe shared anecdotes about the origins of Festivus. O’Keefe’s father, the creative mind behind many of the now-established Festivus traditions, would affix a bag-encased clock to the wall instead of an aluminum pole. Although the bag and clock varied, the wall remained a consistent backdrop. The secretive nailings would be unveiled with great pride to his family, creating cherished memories that endured.
“The real symbol of the holiday was a clock that my dad put in a bag and nailed to the wall every year,” O’Keefe told CNN. “I don’t know why I don’t know what it means, he would never tell me. He would always say, ‘That’s not for you to know.’
Initially, O’Keefe opposed adding the made-up holiday to the show. But the writers and Jerry Seinfeld thought it would be hilarious. And they were right! Fans love the holiday and still celebrate it today… a true Festivus miracle.
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