Tag: Jerry Stiller

Happy Festivus 2022!

Are you fed up with the relentless commercialization of the holiday season? Take heart: You’re not alone!

The late Jerry Stiller, in his iconic role as Seinfeld‘s Frank Costanza, explained the origin of his anti-consumerist celebration in a now-infamous 1997 episode titled “The Strike“:

“Many Christmases ago I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way … Out of that, a new holiday was born. A Festivus for the rest of us!”

On the surface Festivus  — celebrated annually on Dec. 23 — looks like any other family gathering for the holidays, but the details make it special. They include a Festivus pole instead of a tree, the Feats of Strength — in which a younger relative attempts to pin the family patriarch — and the Airing of Grievances:

“At the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year,” Frank explains.

Festivus is completely absurd, which is what makes it fun, but it’s also a strong reaction against the all-encompassing commercialization of the holiday season. Every year it seems like the retail industry nudges the season a little further back. At first it was a few weeks, then the end of Thanksgiving marked the beginning of the holidays.

Now it’s not unusual to see lights, wreaths and images of Santa popping up in early November, setting the tone for more sales, more gifts, and more spending.

Of course if you’re reading this site, you’re a cat lover and you’re probably intimately familiar with the non-stop meowing of a dissatisfied cat. Not enough food, not enough snacks, not enough space on the bed, not enough scritches. To a cat, the Airing of Grievances can take place on any day of the year — and it often does. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be a special edition of it on Festivus.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time for me to sit down to the Festivus table and get berated by Bud. I’m told his list of grievances is quite long this year.

Happy Festivus!

Happy Festivus! For The Rest Of Us!

Happy Festivus, everyone!

Festivus is a holiday celebrated “as an alternative to the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas season.”

The holiday’s traditions include a Festivus pole, which must not be decorated (“I find tinsel distracting,” Festivus creator Frank Costanza explains), a Festivus dinner which typically includes family and friends, an Airing of Grievances and the Feats of Strength. The Airing of Grievances (Buddy’s favorite part) is an after-dinner tradition in which participants go around the table and tell everyone else how disappointing they’ve been all year, while the Feats of Strength signals the end of the holiday if younger members of the family are able to pin the family patriarch.

Jerry Stiller
Jerry Stiller in 1979

Because 2020 has been such a lousy year, many people likely forgot we lost Jerry Stiller this year. Stiller famously played Frank Costanza on Seinfeld, arguably the most well-known of the many roles the 93-year-old actor took on during his long career.

It may be a small mercy, in a way, since Stiller didn’t have to witness the first socially-distanced Festivus and holiday season as the Coronavirus rages across the US this winter. (Contrary to some clown’s vandalism on Wikipedia, Stiller died of natural causes, not COVID-19.)

In the real world, Festivus was created in 1966 by the writer Daniel O’Keefe. The holiday wasn’t popularly celebrated until 1997 when O’Keefe’s son, then a writer for Seinfeld, included the now-beloved holiday in an episode of the show.

Over the next two-plus decades, Festivus has become a “real” holiday, with many people marking the occasion by getting together with friends.