Festivus: The “Seinfeld” holiday for the transmission of grievances is for everyone this year

That’s right, there’s Festivus.

December 23 is Festivus, a day reserved in history for all those who consider that the normal holiday traditions do not fit too well this year.

Festivus is a special holiday that in pre-pandemic times was reserved for the most able to want to embrace their inner “bah humbug” than their Christmas spirit. It is a correct assumption that more of us could be in that camp than ever and the antidote, or at least a catch that could prove cathartic for us this year, is Festivus.

Festivus returns to the sitcoms of the past years. The holiday prank was born on the TV show “Seinfeld” on December 18, 1997, when George Costanza, played by Jason Alexander, revealed that his father (played by the late Jerry Stiller) created the day to contrast the religious and commercial aspects of traditional holidays. since December. Jerry Seinfeld, the protagonist of his eponymous show – which aired on NBC from July 5, 1989 to May 14, 1998, with nine seasons and 180 episodes – is interested in the holiday and its specific rituals.
The audience first learned about the invented holiday Festivus in an episode of "Seinfeld" which took place on December 18, 1997. Shown (from left) are the late Jerry Stiller, Michael Richards and Jerry Seinfeld.
And if we become truly technical, Festivus may have its roots in 1966, when “Seinfeld” writer Dan O’Keefe, who introduced Festivus to the plot, first heard his father dreaming of the holiday.

“Festivus for the rest of us!” is the slogan that caught fire as a result of the episode.

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The holiday comes complete with a set of traditions that matches this year with a pandemic and otherwise blockages and sadness, including an obscure pole instead of a brightly lit tree. Perhaps the most accentuated, the Festivus tradition also requires a special ceremony known as “spreading dissatisfaction”, in which to tell the people in your life how they disappointed you. I’m sure that if “Seinfeld” were to produce new episodes, it would extend the parameters of Festivus to allow you to complain about the pandemic and anything else that is upside down in your life.

I, for one, will happily gather around an uprooted, saved pillar and complain about my head. I will analyze all the missed family meetings, the missed meetings with friends, the missed play dates for my child. I will even grieve over the missed moments when I could have met a stranger, making a new friend, a neighbor, a new opportunity, a new breath of life. I feel better just thinking about all the complaints, about leaving 2020 in one fell swoop, all in the name of Festivus!

The cutouts of actors Jason Alexander (left) and the late Jerry Stiller are presented with Festivus poles that were to be distributed to fans online for Hulu

And then I hope to feel better and be grateful that my family is doing well, and my child will have more fun tearing up wrapping paper and playing with the box containing the toy that took forever to arrive.

I know that venting my handles might be cathartic, but too many complaints, like too many things, might not be so good for me.

“If there’s ever been a year to celebrate Festivus, it’s 2020,” said Guy Winch, a renowned New York clinical psychologist who has the next role as Dear Guy on TED and co-host of the Dear Therapists Podcast. , by email.

“The trick to doing this in an emotionally healthy way is to distinguish between two types of dissatisfaction – the ones we can’t do anything about and the ones we’d actually like to resolve,” he said. he.

If your grievances are beyond the control of your loved ones, such as not being able to see your loved ones or catching the latest movie or dinner, then “in any case, sit around that pole and ventilate.” , said Winch.

Throw the Christmas menu out the window and enjoy a snack

But if you have some control over dissatisfaction, screaming at a ragged pole with others listening may not be the answer. Instead, choose to address dissatisfaction with them directly or “scream into the abyss, but don’t create tension and struggles that could destroy what would otherwise be a wonderful (tongue-in-cheek) celebration of pettiness, misery, grief. and the victim, “Winch said.

Just complaining is not a useful strategy, according to Tina Gilbertson, a Denver-based psychotherapist and author of “Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them.”

“Transmitting your grievances is only half the battle when it comes to feeling better,” she said. “Make sure someone validates the emotions behind each dissatisfaction or do it for yourself. For example, if you say, “I hate to feel trapped at home,” give her an answer like, “Yes!” It’s terrible to feel trapped at home. “Every dissatisfaction needs a compassionate witness to be a healer.”

The Festivus sweater is on display during the Colossal Clusterfest at the Civic Center Plaza and The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on June 3, 2017 in San Francisco.

For those who really want to get into the letter of the Festivus law, the pole and the discontent are followed by an attempt to literally identify everyone around you. This is obviously poorly advised if it is not already in your Covid virus bubble or if you expect it to prepare your dinner later, but it could be cathartic to fight with your home colleagues and remove some from that extra tension, as long as no one is hurt.

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And yet, there are reasons to take a break before starting completely.

“I think ‘spreading dissatisfaction,’ as described in ‘Seinfeld,’ is probably the last thing we need this year,” said David Susman, a licensed psychologist based in Lexington, Kentucky.

“With the combined stress of COVID-19, political conflict and racial unrest in 2020, we must now focus on positivity, healing and cooperation,” said Susman, who is also an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky.

What a party bastard.

This year, Festivus, a holiday born of American television, which we relied on this year to stay at home, is not for the rest of us as much as it is for most of us. So go ahead, raise your stake and expose your grievances. Maybe just leave a little space for positivity, if you can, because George Costanza’s father also smiled from time to time.

Allison Hope is a writer and native New Yorker who favors humor instead of sadness, television travel, and sleep coffee.