Wait – what the heck is Festivus? It’s a secular holiday celebrated by a growing number of people on 23rd December each year, as an alternative to the commercialism of Christmas.
It’s also a great example of the way things can take on a whole new life, thanks to social media (and the internet in general)…
Festivus started in the mid 1960s with the O’Keefe family in New York. Its reason for existing is somewhat hazy, but it became an annual tradition for that one family.
Years later, one of the family would go on to become a TV writer. Dan O’Keefe wrote a 1997 Seinfeld episode called “The Strike”, which introduced Festivus to a worldwide audience, and it gained a small cult following amongst dedicated Seinfeld fans. And there it would probably have stayed (and maybe gradually died out).
About 15 years later, social media really took off – and so did Festivus. Now one family’s idiosyncratic holiday has grown to the point where thousands of people around the world gather around their unadorned aluminium poles, and celebrate with traditions including “Airing of Grievances” and “Feats of Strength”.
It was a trending topic on Twitter in 2010. Google is in on the fun (search “Festivus” and there are a few extra additions to the results page – try it!). Since 2012, several US state capitols have included a Festivus pole in their official holiday decorations – one made of beer cans! Now that sounds like a holiday worth celebrating.