Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Brief History of "Festivus" a Holiday NOT Invented by "Seinfeld."

Sad news, I know that the devotees of "Seinfeld" will be devastated.  Tough shit.  Neither Seinfeld nor Curb Your Enthusiasm are even remotely of interest, let alone to be considered hilarious.

This is how Festivus came about.  In February, 1966, a now retired Readers Digest editor named Daniel O'Keefe - apparently a major romantic (or a guy who just liked to have a few to celebrate damned near anything) created  what he called "Festivus" saying later that the name just popped into his head.   He insisted that his wife join him in celebration of  the anniversary of their first date.  Hard to get more nebulous than that …

Time went on, the couple had three sons, one of whom wound up as a writer on the "Seinfeld" show.  A fellow on the show overhead Dan O'Keefe describing it to other show writers and lobbied to have an episode written about it.  O'Keefe didn't want to do it and protested mightily to (clearly) no avail.

Before "Seinfeld" the O'Keefe household celebrated Festivus on random holidays - not just Christmas.  Activities included wearing funny hats, Dan and his two brothers wrestling and a clock put in a bag.  This mystified the boys but all their father would say was, "That's not for you to know."  This may be a sort of Celtic recognition of death inasmuch as the first Festivus arose from the death of O'Keefe, Sr.'s mother.  A way of saying, time is fleeting; seize the day, we never know when the bomb will drop on us.  There was no pole made of  aluminum, pine or anything else at the O'Keefe residence.  

Airing of the Grievances on the show was in turn inspired by O'Keefe the Elder's admiration for Samuel Becket's play "Krapp's Last Tape."  During the continuation of Festivus at the house from the '60s, '70s and on, he would tape himself talking about whatever had gone on during the previous months.  Again, an item copied by the show writers.

Now you know more than you may have wished about Festivus.  Since, ideally, this non-official holiday includes food and drink, and plenty of it, give some consideration to the end of January as your Festivus.   The bills have come in, the weather (and many of you) has gone south on us all and it is, generally, a good time for a party.  Ice the champagne and caviar and have at it!


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