By Anthony L Hall:
Even long before William Shakespeare patented this literary device, jesters had been used in plays and other forms of entertainment to highlight the folly in prevailing thoughts and customs of the day.
Therefore, it seems entirely fitting that it took jesters on the comedy show Seinfeld to highlight the blithe spirit with which we have made Christmas a celebration more of crass commercialism than of the birth of Christ. For it was on this show that most Christians worldwide were first introduced to the celebration of “Festivus for the rest of us.”
Festivus, which is celebrated on December 23, began in 1965 as a family ritual in the home of writer Dan O’Keefe. And, interestingly enough, it was his son Daniel, a writer for Seinfeld, who wove the entire history and meaning of Festivus into the December 18, 1997 episode of the show.
I saw this episode; and I can attest to the fact that the uproarious laughter all references to Festivus elicited was surpassed only by the cunning messages about the real meaning of Christmas that I felt compelled to ponder long after the end of this episode.
Ironically, Festivus is a wholly secular attempt to remind us that Jesus is the reason for the season. Accordingly, it encourages us to utterly shun not only the indulgent ritual of shopping but all of the other hedonistic activities Christians engage in this time of year.
The O’Keefes reportedly do this by engaging in the antic practices of having an “Airing of Grievances” meal, at which each person tells other family members all the ways they disappointed him or her over the past year. This meal is then followed by a “Feats of Strength” performance, during which family members must wrestle and pin the head of household to the floor to bring the celebration of Festivus to a close...
Of course, since there’s no religious dogma associated with this holiday, you do not have to follow the O’Keefe’s fashion when celebrating this holiday. Instead, you can choose whatever non-commercial activities you wish to engage in to celebrate Festivus. For example, I think the most spiritual way of doing this would be to take a family walk on the beach and commune with nature.
In any event, I urge you to think – “What would Jesus do?” – before joining the madding crowd of those rushing out in a last-minute dash to spend money in a patently perverse effort to celebrate His birth.
Happy Festivus ... and Merry Christmas!
December 23, 2009