Today is Festivus, so stop crying and fight your father. Because New York (particularly Bayside) does not recognize Festivus as an official holiday, alternate side parking is still in effect, and banks and city agencies are still open. But hey, that just gives us one more grievance to air tonight! For the origins of this sacred tradition, watch this video:
The idea for the Seinfeld episode is traced back to writer Daniel O'Keefe, who later published a book, The Real Festivus, detailing how Festivus was an actual holiday created by his father. In an online Q&A with readers of the Washington Post this week, O'Keefe explains that though Frank Costanza observes Festivus on December 23rd, "the significance of that was we chose it randomly. The Frank Costanza line was 'to get a leg up on Christmas.' In real life it was celebrated whenever the hell my dad felt like it, September to May. One year there was none. One year, there were two."
O'Keefe says that since the episode aired in 1997, "literally dozens of stoned college students and federal prisoners around the country" have taken up the Festivus pole and celebrated the holiday. (It's not too late to buy your Festivus pole!) In the WaPo Q&A, O'Keefe also reveals that he was eight years old when he realized, to his horror, that his family was the only one observing Festivus:
I mentioned to a kid on the bus "We had Festivus last night, and..." He said "Whaaaaaat?" I soon realized to keep my mouth shut about it and I did for literally twenty years with outsiders, to the point I had actually repressed/forgotten it, till my younger brother (Mark O'Keefe who wrote Bruce Almighty and Click) mentioned it to the 'Seinfeld' head writers and they made me stick it in an episode, although I fought against it.
Incidentally, NY Times journalist Allen Salkin wrote his own book about the holiday (SFist interviewed him back in '05), which was published around the same time as O'Keefe's book. But Salkin was sacked earlier this month, so he's definitely got some heavy grievances to air this year. Do you have any grievances? (Besides people "stealing your avatars!")