“Frank: Welcome, newcomers. The tradition of Festivus begins with the airing of the grievances. I got a lot of problems with you people and now you’re gonna hear about it.” With this, the TV show Seinfeld introduced the world to Festivus for the rest of us.
If you are, or were, a Seinfeld fan, you probably remember this holiday made up by George Costanza’s father as an alternative to Christmas. In the show, the story behind Festivus is that Frank “reigned blows upon” another man over the last doll on a shelf. As a result, he decided there must be another way. So he concocted his own bizarre holiday.
What you may not know? Seinfeld writer Dan O’Keefe’s father invented and observed Festivus in real life in 1966 and continued to celebrate it through the 80’s. It appears to have been as much of an embarrassment to Dan as it was in the show for George.
What Exactly is Festivus?
A few minor details were changed for the TV episode, but almost every aspect of its meaning and rituals came from the writer’s true childhood. According to themanual.com, I present the key tenets of Festivus:
- Put a clock in a bag and nail it to the wall (which is considered “the true symbol of Festivus”).
- Sit down for dinner.
- Before eating comes the Airing of Grievances, an opportunity to tell others how they have disappointed you in the past year.
- Enjoy Festivus dinner (which on the show was meatloaf on a piece of lettuce).
- Amid dinner, the Feats of Strength begin, where the head of the household must be pinned by other family members. The honor goes to someone at the table.
- Festivus is not over until the head of the household is pinned.
While a not so happy Festivus makes for an outrageous and funny episode of television, it makes for a lousy way to live our lives.
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing;” NASB
After all, Christmas celebrates the day love came down. Jesus temporarily gave us His home in heaven to live among us and die in our place for forgiveness of our sins. This is reason for unmeasurable joy! Even if our Christmas doesn’t look the way we hoped it would. If your house isn’t ready or you couldn’t find the right gift. If someone you love is no longer with you. Maybe distance is an issue or family differences make gatherings difficult. Whatever the challenge may be, we can have hope of a forever home in heaven because of God’s great sacrifice. It is that hope we cling to when our present circumstances disappoint.
I know I don’t stand a chance of going the whole holiday season without grumbling or complaining. I messed that up on the first day of December. But God’s grace allows me to get closer to that goal every day I walk with Him.
Do you know personally the Jesus we celebrate at Christmas? If you aren’t sure, I would love to tell you about the greatest gift you will ever receive. Comment below or message me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will call or message you back. I would much rather talk about Him than shop or bake or wrap. And I have a feeling that the more I talk about Jesus, the less grumbling and disputing there will be.
Even though the Costanza’s celebrated Festivus on December 23, I prefer to wish you a Merry Christmas today. May God bless you richly and may you enjoy your time with Him and others.
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I learned so much from The Twelve Days of Christmas from Penny’s Passion. Fun trivia!
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