Christmas is undoubtedly the single most widely celebrated holiday in the world. Nonetheless, this holiday is often characterized by excessive spending, too much commercialization, and indulgence in pleasures. It is not uncommon for most households to be stretched to their breaking points.

Because of these weaknesses, many have had no otherwise but to seek alternatives. The alternatives aimed have primarily been to lessen the financial burdens that typically arise. The Festivus holiday was born as a plausible alternative to Christmas. But just what is it? How does it differ from Christmas?

We can never answer these questions in a paragraph or so. That is why we have seen it necessary to dedicate an entire article to them. In the discussions that follow, we shall seek to explain what the holiday is, how it is celebrated, when it first came to be, and indeed, many more!


Festivus is a non-commercial and secular holiday that entails raising an Aluminum pole, serving dinner, airing grievances, and demonstrating feats of great strength. It is typically celebrated on December 23rd each calendar year (2 days before Christmas). The holiday mainly serves to ease the pressures and excessive commercialization of the typical Christmas holiday.


This holiday was the brainchild of Daniel O’Keefe. He was an author, editor, and writer for TV series. His conceptualization of the holiday happened in the early 1960s and culminated in the first celebration of the holiday in 1966. His inspiration was mainly informed by the excess pressures of the commercial Christmas holiday.

The term ‘Festivus’ draws from the Latin “jovial, excellent or lively.” As such, it means a feast or joyous holiday. Surprisingly, Daniel O’Keefe coincided with the first Festivus holiday with the first date with his future wife.


This holiday, by and large, serves the following purposes:

  • Joy and celebrations

Its primary purpose is to replace Christmas. Christmas, as we all know, is a holiday that is filled with joy and celebrations. It hence goes that this holiday similarly exists to demonstrate some joy and celebrations. Indeed, all the activities that transpire on this day are geared towards happiness.

  • Family and connections

By its sheer character, the holiday involves an entire family sitting around a table. For this reason, it remotely exists also as a means of fostering the bonds that exist among the disparate members of the family. That it comes once a year goes ahead to strengthen its position as a family holiday.

  • Wining and dining

Food and drinks are at the centre of the holiday. What does this mean? That the holiday also provides excellent opportunities for members of an entire family to eat to their fill. Even though it is not as extensive as the Christmas festivities, it is nonetheless still great as it serves expensive foods that are taken occasionally.

  • Comfort and support

One of the key pillars of this holiday is that it is used to air grievances. The participants sit at a round table and take their turn to open up. In the process of all these, they get to lessen their burdens and get back to their places more relieved and less inclined to dangers of excess stress and anxiety.

  • Courage and strength

At last, the game also serves to demonstrate some courage and strength. It accords its members a rare platform to showcase and exude what they have to offer in terms of strength and vitality. This lets the other members also get bolder and better equipped to take on life’s emerging challenges.


Like any other holiday, this too has its customary practices. We now identify and belabour them below:

  • Festivus pole

At the core of the holiday is the raising of the Festivus pole. This pole is made of Aluminum and has a pretty high strength-to-weight ratio. The bar lacks any adornment and thus comes out as a very frank item. It replaced a former practice of placing a clock inside a bag and nailing to a wall.

  • Festivus dinner

The dinner comes in next in terms of importance. Its role is merely celebratory because it is intended to delight those who partake of it. Typically, it comprises a sliced reddish meatloaf-shaped food that is spread atop a bed of lettuce. It does not serve with alcohol, as is the case with other celebratory meals.

  • Airing of grievances

Immediately after partaking in the Festivus dinner, the participants have to air their grievances, one to another. The practice commences with the phrase, “I have several issues with you people…” or any of its closest variations. This is followed by a barrage of problems or issues that the specific participant may have encountered.

  • Feats of strength

After airing the grievances, the participants now have to showcase their strengths. Here, the participants, in turn, state their strong points, some of the feats they have achieved of late, and the milestones they have attained. Its purpose is to cheer and inspire others to also strive for greater heights.

  • Festivus miracles

Closing the list of the customary practices are the Festivus miracles. These are activities or feats that are purported of divine origins. Each participant states an issue or two which they may personally attribute to a supernatural occurrence. Yet again, the miracles go a long way in revealing the magical hand in their lives.


We now get to the steps involved in celebrating this festival:

  • Step I: Gather the essentials

It would help if you started it out by gathering the essentials. You will need the Aluminum pole, some food, cooking equipment, seating apparatus, a venue, and gifts. As you do this, consider the number of persons who are likely to attend the event. The total sum volume will depend on them.

  • Step II: Send out invitations

Now send out the invitations. We recommend that you do this roughly 2-4 weeks before the December 23rd date when the event is supposed to happen. This is to give the would-be participants ample time to prepare appropriately for the same. Make sure you receive a personal confirmation from each invitee.

  • Step III: Prepare the meals

On a material day, prepare the means that shall be consumed. Be sure to follow the laid down procedures and rules of engagements. Wrap and package the foods nicely to prevent any unnecessary contaminations before the same is eventually consumed by the participants. Store them fine as well.

  • Step IV: Set the venue

As you prepare the meals, you should also set the venue concurrently. This means arranging the chairs, sound systems, décor, and everything you might need in a neat and organized manner. You may need an expert in the matters of décor to help you out in all these.

  • Step V: Hold the event

You may now go ahead and hold the event. Just accept the invitees, direct them to the places designated for them to sit, and go through the five customary practices that the feast entails. You may have to confer with and receive the consent of the relevant authorities to hold such an event.

  • Step VI: Issue a vote of thank

As is the norm with any other feast, you have to issue a vote of thanks at the tail end of the feast. This is to express an appreciation to the attendees for taking off their busy schedules to come and attend the event. Follow it up by making appropriate follow-ups as well.


Here now are some fun facts about the Festivus holiday:

  • It takes place on December 23rd each year
  • The holiday came to be before the Seinfeld
  • You may purchase the Festivus pole from the leading outlets
  • This holiday has a sociological background that seeks to undo the commercialization of Christmas
  • It was officially recognized by the US State of Florida in 2013, making it the first entity to do so
  • There have been some public outcries over the images displayed during the holiday
  • Though obscure, the holiday has been the subject of many movies and works of art
  • It costs a lot less to hold and participate in when compared to the Christmas festivity


We now wrap it up with a couple of questions that are persistently asked about the Festivus holiday:

Q1. When did Festivus become a holiday?

A. December 23rd, 1966, it is!

Q2. What do you eat on Festivus?

A. The dinner on the Festivus holiday typically comprises meatloaf that is sprinkled on a pile of lettuce. Each participant is naturally allowed to incorporate other foods and drinks that may seem necessary and relevant to the occasion.

Q3. What is the proper Festivus greeting?

A. It is “Happy Festivus”, while the slogan for a holiday is “A Festivus for the rest of us!”

Q4. How tall is a Festivus pole?

A. Around 20 inches, give or take!

Q5. Do you decorate Festivus poles?

A. NO! You do not need to decorate the pole at all. The holiday is designed to avoid the expenses and the grandeur that the Christmas festivity naturally entails. That partly informs why it is devoid of any decorations.


Even though the holiday started as a brainchild of a writer, it has gained wider acceptance over the years. Indeed, many people the world over have chosen it over and above the traditional Christmas holidays. It has also been the subject of many television shows, movies, and series.


To recap a couple of significant points we have discussed, the Festivus holiday is some alternative to Christmas. It is celebrated just two days before the Christmas festivity (December 23rd.) The five rituals involved in celebrating it are raising an Aluminum pole, serving dinner, airing grievances, and showcasing feats of great strength.

It is not enough for you to know about the holiday in and of itself. You have to move a step further to participate in it. How about you start it out this year? It is not too late to set out. Just draw up a plan and a list of the people you would wish to invite along.