Commentary: Happy Festivus
By Anthony L Hall
Playwrights used jesters to highlight the folly in prevailing thoughts and customs of the day – long before William Shakespeare patented this literary device.
Therefore, it’s entirely fitting that Jerry Seinfeld used jesters to highlight the folly of celebrating Christmas more as an homage to crass commercialism than the birth of Jesus Christ. He did so by making “Festivus for the rest of us” the theme of an episode of his hit show, Seinfeld.
|Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant – headquartered in Washington DC – who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com|
Festivus, which is celebrated on December 23, began in 1965 as a family ritual in the home of writer Dan O’Keefe. His son Daniel, a writer on Seinfeld, wove the entire history and meaning of Festivus into that episode, which aired on the December 18, 1997.
I watched it. And, trust me, the uproarious laughter all references to Festivus evoked was surpassed only by the cunning message about the real meaning of Christmas, which I felt compelled to ponder long after the credits rolled.
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 do this by having an “Airing of Grievances” meal. It features each person telling other family members all the ways they disappointed him or her over the past year.
They follow this meal with a “Feats of Strength” performance. It features family members wrestling and pinning the head of household to the floor to end the celebration of Festivus….
Of course, because there’s no religious dogma associated with this holiday, you do not have to follow the O’Keefes’ fashion. Choose whatever non-commercial activity you wish. My choice is a family walk to commune with nature.
I suspect many of you will be joining the madding crowd doing last-minute shopping – all in a perverse effort to celebrate His birth. But take a moment to think: “What would Jesus do?”