But first, we offer a brief rewind for those among you muttering Festi-WHAT? Festivus is a (non)holiday introduced to the masses in an episode of “Seinfeld” that continues to live on. George Costanza’s father, Frank, says he dreamed up Festivus as a way to fight back at the rampant consumerism that surrounds Christmas and holiday gift-giving. (Tradition now has Festivus falling on Dec. 23.)
Festivus, Frank explains, has three major components. Festivus shuns all the holiday trappings by using as its symbol a simple metal pole — no adornments, just a metal pole. Festivus is also marked by the “Airing of Grievances” at the holiday dinner table, where family members take turns verbally bashing each other. Finally, Festivus involves “feats of strength” that are, essentially, wrestling throw-downs.
But wait! There’s more. Here are 10 things we bet you didn’t know about Festivus:
1) Sen. Rand Paul celebrates Festivus! The Kentucky lawmaker showed his Festivus spirit by engaging in the “Airing of Grievances.”
2) You can buy a Festivus pole: Wagner Cos. of Milwaukee began selling Festivus poles several years ago as a bit of a joke. But the railings manufacturing company has sold more than 7,000 poles so far, mostly to people and companies looking for a politically correct excuse to throw a party. “It allows you to celebrate without offending anyone,” Tony Leto, the company’s sales vice president, told the Los Angeles Times. The 6-foot-tall model costs $39, plus shipping.
3) Festivus is recognized by the state of Florida: An activist championing the separation of church and state successfully lobbied for a Festivus display in the state capitol’s rotunda. The Festivus pole is adorned with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans.
5) Mystery surrounds this key aspect of Festivus: On the beloved “Seinfeld” episode, are the Festivus faithful eating… meatloaf? Spaghetti? Or meatloaf spaghetti? This is one mystery, like Big Foot and the Yeti, that might not ever be solved.
6) There are Festivus T-shirts: The tagline? Why, it’s the Festivus rallying cry, of course: “Festivus: The holiday for the rest of us!”
7) The “Seinfeld” Festivus episode aired in 1997: Its timing was perfect, too. It aired the week before Christmas 1997.
8) Festivus was born long before that: The mock holiday dates back to 1966, according to the New York Times, and it was introduced to family and friends by Dan O’Keefe. O’Keefe’s son, Daniel, would grow up to become a writer on “Seinfeld,” culling from the family tradition for the episode.
9) The Festivus episode almost didn’t happen: O’Keefe, the “Seinfeld” writer, told Mother Jones magazine recently that he fought against the Festivus episode. (It came about when he revealed his family’s Festivus background. Jerry Seinfeld loved it. But O’Keefe feared it would bomb with viewers.)
1/2) There’s a Facebook page, and plenty of memes! We’re only counting this as 1/2 ’cause this Facebook page is the product of Wagner Cos. [See No. 2]. May the Festivus be with you, Luke and Leia!