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THE HISTORY OF FESTIVUS
While it first came to the attention of most of America by way of the December 18, 1997 episode of Seinfeld, the celebration of a holiday called Festivus is part of human history throughout the ages, most notably in ancient Rome, nineteenth-century California, and upstate New York in the 1960s.
By December 2004, when Allen Salkin's article about Festivus as a real holiday appeared in the New York Times, thousands of people around the world were celebrating Festivus with parties, grievance-airing, pole-erecting, beer-brewing and the invention of new Festivus rituals.
THE FESTIVUS POLE
An unadorned length of lusterless metal or something that looks like metal, this central totemic element of Festivus can be mighty or meek. Some poles are pinky-short and some tetherball-tall. Erected on a lawn, balanced in a coffee can near a photocopier, stuck in a pail of rocks in the living room or suspended from fishing line on the front porch. the pole symbolizes nothing.
THE AIRING OF GRIEVANCES
Like everything else Festivus, the AOG has evolved some wild variations, but the core of it remains lashing into others and the world about how they have been disappointments. This usually brings participants into a circle of sorts in which each takes turns excoriating friends, enemies, relatives, acquaintances and strangers. When all who care to have taken a turn griping, there is no required hugging or making up.
FEATS OF STRENGTH
The FOS generally follows the AOG. Under the Seinfeld orthodoxy, Festivus is not over until the head of the household is wrestled to the floor and pinned. While there is an undeniable classic elegance to this, real world Festivus practitioners have developed other cathartic methods of discharging pent-up energy against one's fellows, including thumb wrestling and washer tossing.