Best Festivus ever

“Hello. Do you have any Festivus poles for sale?”

The genial woman on the other end of the phone line hesitates.

“Um. What is that?”

“Oh it’s a six-foot-tall aluminium pole that’s set up, kind of like a Christmas tree, in order to celebrate Festivus.”

“Hm. No we don’t have those. Sorry.”

Apparently the nice folks at Cox Lumber are confining their inventory of living room decor to accoutrement oriented toward more traditional winter holidays.

In all fairness, according to Festivus authorities of some repute (via the New York Times), the Festivus pole was not a part of the original Festivus fete, which took place in February 1966 in New York State.

Mysterious clock

The brainchild of former Reader Digest editor Dan O’Keefe, Festivus evolved during the 70s, during which time a centrepiece of the celebrations was a rather mysterious clock inside a paper bag. But it wasn’t until December 1997 that Festivus exploded onto the winter solstitial scene, by way of Mr. O’Keefe’s son Daniel, a writer for then uber popular TV sitcom Seinfeld.

During the episode, called The Strike, the ever-thrifty George Costanza decides to save money on Christmas gifts for co-workers by passing out cards stating that a donation had been made in their name to a fabricated charity he dubbed The Human Fund. After the accounting department outs the charity as fraudulent, Mr. Costanza attempts to explain his actions to his boss by stating that he gave out the fake cards because he doesn’t celebrate Christmas, he celebrates Festivus.

“And, uh, I was afraid that I would be persecuted for my beliefs. They drove my family out of Bayside, Sir!” Mr. Costanza protests.

The episode culminates with Mr. Costanza inviting his boss to his parents’ house to celebrate Festivus, which in the episode had been created by Mr. Costanza’s father Frank in a fit of Christmas-inspired Darwinian violence.

“Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reach for the last one they had – but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realised there had to be another way,” the elder Costanza explains.

“But out of that, a new holiday was born: A Festivus for the rest of us,” he says.

Airing of Grievances

Hallmarks of the Traditional Costanza Festivus, held on 23 December, include the Festivus Pole – made of aluminium due to its “very high strength-to-weight ratio” (according to Frank Costanza), a celebratory dinner, The Airing of Grievances (where participants tell each other how they’ve disappointed them throughout the year), and The Feats of Strength (where the head of the family wrestles a participant of his/her choosing, unless the participant has something better to do). The dinner is not over until the head of the family has been pinned to the ground.

Since the airing of the Seinfeld episode, Festivus has been adopted by many (more or less) people in the United States and (presumably) other countries, who have introduced their own rituals and traditions along the way.

So even if a traditional Festivus Pole can’t be found readily in Cayman in time for Christmas Eve’s Eve, there’s always the option of using a clock in a bag, or whatever else feels acceptable. Another alternative is ordering online at FestivusPoles.com from Wisconsin-based The Wagner Companies, which sells six-foot aluminium Festivus Poles for US$39 plus shipping, and two-foot eight-inch tabletop models for US$31 plus shipping.

Happy Festivus!

More information about Festivus and its origins can be found on FestivusWeb.com.

More information about Festivus and its origins can be found on FestivusWeb.com.

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