Decades ago, in Bayside, Queens, a somewhat short-tempered salesman of religious artifacts became disillusioned with the religious and commercial aspects of Christmas.
Whilst in a busy store one year, this well-traveled salesman experienced an epiphany.
“Many Christmases ago I went to buy a doll for my son,” said the man, Korean War veteran Frank Costanza. “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!”
There was, and he had a name for it.
“Out of that, a new holiday was born — a Festivus for the rest of us!”
As with many celebrations and observances misunderstood by mainstream society, prejudice ensued as Festivus continued. As Costanza’s son George noted, the Costanza family was “driven out” of Bayside.
Nevertheless, the holiday survived, even as it fell into a lengthy dormancy that pleased the younger Costanza. An executive with Krueger Industrial Smoothing, the self-described “lord of the idiots” embraced more traditional holiday celebrations as the years passed, partaking of a Christmas party during a brief stint at Pendant Publishing and eventually using the seasonal celebrations as an excuse to seek out companionship by perusing the personals section of The Daily Worker.
For years, Festivus went uncommemorated, until the interest of a semi-employed Manhattan resident was piqued upon hearing second-hand tales of the holiday. This man, sometime author, entrepreneur and bagel technician Cosmo Kramer, encouraged the now-retired Frank Costanza to resuscitate the traditions of Festivus. These included:
… A commemorative, unadorned alumnium pole. “It requires no decoration,” Frank Costanza explained. “I find tinsel distracting … It’s made from aluminum, (with) a very high strength-to-weight ratio.” …
… A dinner, at which the Airing of Grievances is held. “You gather your family around and tell them all the ways they have disappointed you in the past year,” said Costanza …
… The Feats of Strength, during which one of the dinner guests wrestles the host of the meal. The celebration is incomplete until the host has been pinned.
Tonight, throughout this favored land, many collections of friends, including several who help bring you this Web site, will gather around a table for a no-holds-barred celebration. The Christmas dinner to come two days hence is about niceties. Festivus is about raw, ungarnished reality, and because it requires so little in the way of ornate preparation, any meal tonight can be a Festivus dinner.
“Festivus is your heritage,” Frank Costanza said. “It’s part of who you are.”
Happy Festivus to you and yours.