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Festivus, the holiday for the rest of us, turns 14; still love it?

December 23, 2011 |  2:21 pm

Today is Festivus, the holiday that was popularized on "Seinfeld" and spurred the comic tell-all tome "The Real Festivus."

Festivus, according to the Dec. 18, 1997, episode of "Seinfeld" was character Frank Costanza's antidote to Christmas -- it was a holiday that spurned commercialism (instead of a Christmas tree, you have an unadorned aluminum pole) and featured such rituals as the Feats of Strength (wrestling) and the Airing of Grievances (yelling).

"Seinfeld's" Jason Alexander looked at the Festivus phenomenon in his introduction to 2005's "The Real Festivus," by "Seinfeld" writer Daniel O'Keefe:

"For one miserable episode, the Costanza family invited the world to join them for an inane, bizarre anti-holiday called Festivus. It wasn't a major story point. It wasn't a recurring story line. It was one lousy episode."

And yet, he was long afterward hounded by the question: "What are you doing for Festivus?"

But has the love of Festivus waned 14 years after the episode?  Not according to Mark Nelson of  

"There is definitely a spike in traffic every year at this time" for the website, he said in an interview Friday with the Los Angeles Times. The number of users coming to the site "begins to ramp up after Halloween" and continues to climb. And this year, the spike was "bigger than in previous years."

What's the draw?

"Generally, people are turned on by the zany aspects of Festivus," Nelson said. "For most, it is all about having a good laugh. Most people might celebrate Festivus in addition to celebrating a normal holiday. Festivus just adds more fun to the holiday season." refers to the "Seinfeldian origins of the Festivus celebration" and recalls the episode in which Frank Costanza told how it all began:

Frank: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. 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.

Kramer: What happened to the doll?

Frank: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born ... a Festivus for the rest of us!

Kramer: That must have been some kind of doll. 

Costanza: She was.

In his book, O'Keefe notes: "This holiday actually existed even before it appeared on television." His father, Daniel O'Keefe Sr., "invented it ... our family celebrated it, and then one of us brothers stuck it on TV and bought a nice car with the money."

From the O'Keefe family to the Nelson family.

FestivusWeb's Nelson said he launched the site five years ago. His family had begun to celebrate Festivus when his mother became ill at Christmastime, "and we couldn't celebrate Christmas as we would normally do." They instituted Festivus, "and we have done it every year since."


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-- Amy Hubbard+