Today is Festivus! The White House is officially celebrating the holiday.
Festivus for the rest of us!
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have celebrated Festivus for the last ten years, and it has now become and Obama family tradition. Sources say The President is pushing to make Festivus a national holiday – perhaps even replacing Christmas.
Michelle Obama is raising money again this year of the Festivus. She is asking Americans to donate to The Human Fund. Checks can be made out to her.
The Roman comic poet Plautus from the 3rd century B.C. originally used the term Festivus to refer to “wild celebrations attended by average citizens cutting lose on religious holidays.”
Festivus is a secular day of celebration for the entire family and friends. It is held annually on DEC-23 — about half-way between Winter Solstice and Christmas. It was reportedly created in 1966 by Daniel O’Keefe, of Chappaqua, NY. (b ~1928). O’Keefe, a former writer for Reader’s Digest, says it was originally a celebration of the first date he had with his wife Deborah.
1) The Aluminum Pole. Festivus begins with an aluminum pole, which is symbolic and appropriate because it has a “very high strength-to-weight ratio.” During Festivus, the unadorned Festivus Pole is displayed. The pole is chosen apparently in opposition to the commercialization of highly decorated Christmas trees, because it is “very low-maintenance,” and also because the holiday’s patron, Frank Costanza, “finds tinsel distracting.”
Here is President Obama’s 2011 Festivus Pole:
2) The Airing of Grievances. At the beginning of the Festivus dinner, each participant tells friends and family of all the instances where they disappointed him or her that year. Here’s a typical opening statement on Festivus. “I’ve got a lot of problems with you people, and now you’re going to hear about it!”
3) Festivus Dinner. The meal is typically meat loaf or spaghetti in a red sauce. No alcohol is to be served. If you do drink alcohol, it must be out of a flask.
4) The Feats of Strength. After the dinner, the head of the household tests his or her strength against one participant of the head’s choosing. Festivus is not considered over until the head of the family has been pinned. However, a participant may be allowed to decline to attempt to pin the head of the household only if they have something better to do instead.
5) Regift Exchange. Instead of going out and buying gifts to exchange, tell everyone to bring a REGIFT item, which is to say that you take a gift that has been received in the past, rewrap it and bring it to the party.