Festivus Yes! Bagels No!

December 17, 2012 |

The wry and undeniably hilarious nine-year run of U.S. television sitcom Seinfeld, and its subsequent eternal perpetuity in nonstop syndication, has provided Americans with numerous tropes to toss about in jest: soup nazi, man hands, puffy shirt. Funny, all.

Most enduring however, due to its stubborn unwillingness to slip quietly into comedy rerun archives, has been a concept introduced in a 1997 episode titled “The Strike.” With a plot revolving around an oppositional anti-holiday of sorts based on his own family history – a sarcastic gathering around a bare aluminum pole – Seinfeld screenwriter Daniel O’Keefe inadvertently launched a popular movement.

On the program, series character Frank Costanza claimed to have begun celebrating something called “Festivus” in reaction to the increasingly commercial and materialistic nature of Christmas. Recounting his memory of exchanging blows with a stranger over the last doll in a department store, “out of that a new holiday was born,” Costanza crowed. “A Festivus for the rest of us!”

Viewers were understandably amused by the idea of Festivus and its absurd so-called traditions such as the “Feats of Strength” and “Airing of Grievances.” A nerve was struck with the increasingly-secular public, which adopted Festivus (tongues firmly in cheek) and began celebrating it in earnest each year on December 23.

Is this how mainstream religions start? Now observed worldwide, Festivus already has taken on a life of its own. It is easy (and humorous) to imagine that in several thousand years, the story of Festivus could become obscured to the point of its adherents ascribing divine intervention to its origins.

Festivus gatherings in Tucson have gained steam over time. A Festivus party at The Loft Cinema was held in 2007. PJ Subs in 2011 enticed people to attend their not-so-solemn Festivus with live entertainment and a full bar. This year is no different.

The Old Pueblo’s first community-wide Festivus Celebration and Dance takes place Saturday, December 22 from 6pm-midnight at the historic El Casino Ballroom, 437 E. 26th St., with musical performances by Stefan George and the Ditchriders, Coyote Supper Club, John Coinman Band, Sabra Faulk and more. A $10 admission price benefits Community Radio KXCI 91.3 FM and the Tucson Kitchen Musicians Association in advance for the 28th annual Tucson Folk Festival May 4-5 of next year. Food and a full cash bar will be available. A Festivus miracle!

Visit TKMA.org and KXCI.org to learn about their commendable work, and FestivusWeb.com to convert.

Category: Community, MUSIC