How to Celebrate Festivus for a Twist on Holiday Tradition

Festivus is the perfect Christmas alternative if you've got decorating, complaining, and wrestling on the brain.

Published December 13, 2022
Seinfeld Episode

If you've maxed out your gift-giving potential this year, then Festivus is the holiday for you. Popularized by Seinfeld in 1997, Festivus was one father's zany response to Christmas' growing commercialism. Come December 23rd, you can look forward to wrestling matches, decorating aluminum poles, family-sanctioned trash talking, and so much more.

How Festivus Got Its Start

If you're not familiar with it, and are asking yourself just what Festivus Day is anyway, we'll give you the scoop. Seinfeld ranks high up there among the legendary sitcoms that've changed pop culture. While some people studiously rewatch Friends' Thanksgiving episodes every November, you might remember tuning in to the hijinks caused by Frank Costanza's outlandish Christmas substitute - Festivus.

Shockingly, Festivus wasn't created specifically for Seinfeld; Daniel O'Keefe's son, one of the show's writers, took his father's holiday and pitched it to the group. Nobody in the writer's room could've expected their holiday episode to inspire legions of dedicated Festivus fans to keep the tradition alive 20+ years later.


The Proper Way to Celebrate Festivus: Rules to Follow

For a made-up holiday, there sure are a ton of rules. If you want to follow the original traditions for this holiday, there are a couple of boxes you have to tick on December 23rd to ring in the true Festivus festivities.

  • Decorate the Festivus Pole. You better buckle up and head to the local hardware store, because it's a Festivus must to decorate an aluminum pole and display it outside your house.
  • Host a Festivus Feast. While the Whos in Whoville prepare their roast beast, you'll be making a mouth-watering spread of all of your holiday favorites to share with your friends and family.
  • Participate in the Airing of Grievances. Like a delicious wine, your favorite foods will pair well with the annual 'Airing of Grievances.' This is the chance for every person to let out all of their annoyances about everyone else from the past year.
  • Hold a 'Feats of Strength' competition. Might as well add a little WWE action to your Festivus evening. The head of your family has to be bested in a wrestling match, since the only way to end the festivities is to pin them down.
  • Proclaim your Festivus Miracles. Every Festivus, an insignificant and unremarkable miracle will happen. For example, making it up the three flights of stairs to your apartment without getting winded counts. The more inane the miracle, the better.


Make Festivus Your Own

In the spirit of unmaking a holiday, there's no reason that you can't personalize your Festivus celebrations. 1997 was a long time ago, and it's due for an upgrade. If you're thinking about hosting a Festivus party this winter or just want to incorporate a piece of the it in your usual holiday get togethers, here are a few ways to bring the holiday from its dial-up days to smart everything.

Host a Festivus Pole Decorating Competition

Unlike the 16th century, Maypoles aren't that common, so you might be hard pressed finding an aluminum pole at the grocery store in December. One way to keep the spirit alive is hosting a small-scale pole decorating competition. Take wooden dowel rods covered in aluminum foil and set out a variety of crafting supplies to let your guests to go wild. You can even vote to see whose pole gets the coveted title of Most Festivus Pole.


Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Wrestling Match

Once you've hit 30, just sleeping on one side for too long can have you locked up for days. So, it makes sense if your family's worried about wrestling your grandparents to the ground. A safe alternative is everyone's favorite '60s game - Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. Just make sure that you punch their metaphorical lights our you're stuck celebrating Festivus again tomorrow.

Dramatic Readings of Your Grievances

Even the most secure family might be wary of airing their greviances with each other and civilly ending the night. A great way to keep things light is making everyone write down one or two of their grievances and putting them in a bowl for people to pick from. Everyone then chooses a grievance and does their best dramatic reading to the group. Bonus points for making the group crack up the fastest with your Morgan Freeman impression or roustabout Shakespearean performance.

Make a Miracle Drinking Game

Whether you're going hard during the holidays or enjoying nonalcoholic concoctions, a way to up the ante is making a drinking game out of your Festivus Miracles. Since you're supposed to be finding the miraculous in the mundane, there should be miracles everywhere. Let guests know that miracle is the trigger word, and anytime someone has a miracle happen, they should shout it to the group for everyone to take a drink. Pick some designated drivers before you start the game - they can air that grievance next year.


The Spirit of Festivus Is What Really Matters

Like with every holiday tradition, it doesn't really matter what the rules are, so long as you're celebrating with the spirit in mind. Festivus is made for you to set aside the stress of picking out the perfect gifts and get back to the basics - having good times, good food, and great conversation with the people you care about. Best part is - you get to make that look like whatever you want to.

How to Celebrate Festivus for a Twist on Holiday Tradition