What is Festivus? The ‘Seinfeld’ Holiday Explained

(Last Updated On: December 5, 2017)

what is festivus

What is Festivus and why should you care?

In 1997, on the hit show “Seinfeld” George’s dad Frank Costanza gave the world “Festivus,” the greatest fake holiday. On the episode “The Strike” Frank breaks down the events that lead to the creation of the holiday and the principle tenants of celebration.

At a somewhat high level, Festivus is a nondenominational holiday celebrated on December 23rd as a way to celebrate the holiday season without participating in its vast commercialism. As Frank said when describing a holiday shopping scuffle over a doll (for George) – “As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.” And while the holiday took flight on “Seinfeld”, according to The New York Times, “Seinfeld” screenwriter David O’Keefe’s father invented the holiday in the 1960s.

So what is Festivus and how do you celebrate it? On December 23rd, you will need an unadorned aluminum pole. This pole is used in lieu of a Christmas tree and is the centerpiece of the celebration. A Festivus celebration is made up of the following elements: The Festivus Dinner, the Airing of the Grievances and finally the Feats of Strength.

The Festivus Dinner:

There is no official Festivus Dinner, but many prefer to use the dinner served in “The Strike” as a guide. Estelle Costanza can be seen serving a reddish food on top of a whitish base which by all accounts are slices of meatloaf on a bed of lettuce. Again this is not a strict requirement, but we offer it here for the purists.

The Airing of the Grievances

Immediately after the Festivus dinner has been served, begins the Airing of the Grievances. This involves telling your family and friends all the ways they have disappointed you during the year.

Welcome, newcomers. The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of grievances. I got a lot of problems with you people! And now you’re gonna hear about it!
–Frank Costanza

The Feats of Strength

After the dinner and the Airing of the Grievances comes the Feats of Strength. Generally Festivus comes to a close when the head of the household is wrestled to the floor and pinned. The head of household chooses who will participate (though as Kramer showed, you can decline if you have something better to do). Once the combatants are selected, the “Feats of Strength” should begin by the head of household removing any bulky clothing and shouting the phrase: “Let’s Rumble”.

But if all that sounds like too much, you can always just go and earn the A Festivus for the Rest of Us badge.

Looking for more backstory? Check out the video below.



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Derek Pharr is Vice President of Product at Sporcle and a content creator. He has been a writer and blogger for over a decade. He enjoys writing about everything from history, movies, geography, and literature to science, life hacks, health and trends in sports. Follow Derek on Twitter @dpharr.