Hey, if a random professor can invent a holiday (Kwanzaa), why not Jerry Stiller?
Many real people are holding parties celebrating Festivus, a holiday most believe was invented on an episode of “Seinfeld” first broadcast the week before Christmas in 1997.
“More and more people are familiar with what Festivus is, and it’s growing,” said Jennifer Galdes, a Chicago restaurant publicist who organized her first Festivus party three years ago. “This year many more people, when they got the invite, responded with, `Will there be an airing of the grievances and feats of strength?’ ”
Those two rituals — accusing others of being a disappointment and wrestling — are traditions of Festivus as explained on the show by the character Frank Costanza. On that episode he tells Kramer that he invented the holiday when his children were young and he found himself in a department store tug of war with another Christmas shopper over a doll. “I realized there had to be a better way,” Frank says.
So he coined the slogan “A Festivus for the rest of us” and formulated the other rules: the holiday occurs on Dec. 23, features a bare aluminum pole instead of a tree and does not end until the head of the family is wrestled to the floor and pinned.
The actual inventor of Festivus is Dan O’Keefe, 76, whose son Daniel, a writer on “Seinfeld,” appropriated a family tradition for the episode. The elder Mr. O’Keefe was stunned to hear that the holiday, which he minted in 1966, is catching on. “Have we accidentally invented a cult?” he wondered.
More like ‘definitely’. Somewhere out there, the real Frank Costanza lives. And now we know his name.
“Seinfeld” continues to amaze me. Can you think of any other television program that has been responsible for the establishment of a new holiday? It cracks me up that Festivus predates the show.
In fact, that’s what was so perfect about “Seinfeld”. It’s life imitating art imitating life. Cosmo Kramer is based very closely on Kenny Kramer, a real guy. George is Larry David. Jerry is himself. Even the soup nazi and the festivus holiday were based on real live things. The genius of “Seinfeld” is that the situations they came up with every week were so insane that they just had to be true.
Gold, Jerry. Gold!