The origins of Festivus are shrouded in the mists of time, or the sleet of alcohol induced delirium, take your pick.
The Festivus website traces the origins back to ancient Rome, but they also believe that the earth is flat, that the stork brings babies and that climate change is caused by liberals letting the heat escape from their mocha lattes. Most scholars above the 6th grade concur with Wikipedia that the holiday was created in 1965 and popularized on the comedy series “Seinfeld” in 1997.
Seinfeld meets the Festivus Pole
But who cares what history says! This is our time, our Festivus! What do we want it to be? Festivus is one holiday you really can make up your self, unless you are Seindfeldian Orthodox. Then you are stuck with the Festivus Pole, The Airing of Grievances and the Feats of Strength of “traditional” Festivus celebration.
But whether you are an Orthodox Zealot or a Festivus Heretic, you can green your Festivus celebration, even before you are sprung from jail for disorderly conduct. Once again the Greenopolis staff has done hours of exhaustive research, consisting mainly of researching a large keg of beer until we exhausted it. We also did a double blind study, asking two blind guys what they thought about Festivus. We came up with Green tips for both the Orthodox and the Heretical Festivus revelers among us.
The Festivus Gift Creed is to give something you don’t want, to someone else that doesn’t want it either. This is perfect for reusing the useless items in your life, like that day-glow wide tie, electric dog polisher, or beautiful black velvet Elvis–as-Santa painting. They transform from being useless schlock in your home into useless schlock in someone else’s home until the next Festivus, and the one after that, ad infinitum! A gift that keeps on giving.
The first Festivus Pole Lot in Milwaukee Wisconsin
The Festivus Pole is a study in conservation itself. One aluminum pole, undecorated, is a simple statement of reducing resources. Make sure your Festivus pole is made from recycled aluminum-you can buy one from
Festivus Poles or make your own Festivus pole from recycled beer cans- the same way these Buddhist monks made their temple from recycled beer bottles.
Airing of Grievances: The core of Festivus tradition. Instead of complaining about all those things your friends and family have done that you can’t change, why not complain about slights to the planet? “Why didn’t you turn the compost? “You could have recycled that!” “How many polar bears did you kill by leaving the lights on?” I’m sick and tired of you throwing everything in the landfill!” You get the idea.
Feats of Strength: Traditionally conducted until someone wrestles the head of the household to the ground, there are many “green” ways to observe this sacred ritual. How many compost piles can you turn at once without spilling any? What’s the longest trek you can take to recycle a single aluminum can? How about recycling all the stuff left on Mt. Everest? Let your imagination run wild.
Unorthodox Heretical Practices
Some new reuse/recycling/conservation traditions for Festivus:
Exchanging of the Compost. Neighbors swap biodegradable pots/bags/wagons of compost, tied tightly and wrapped in brown paper.
Reuse the Festivus Pole. The rest of the year it can serve as a flagpole, yard ornament, rolling pin, dance prop or marital aid.
Use organic olive oil and a recycled sheet of plastic for naked oil wrestling contests. This has a hint of the oil theme of Hanukkah woven into it, along with the Festivus Feats of Strength theme. And you can lick the oil off afterward- see our piece on edible clothing!
Midwinter Sod Roof Contest. Go out and shovel the roof and lay sod until all the winter white is preplaced with Green. Artificial turf from recycled or bioplastics is ok. Green paint is not.
Capture your personal methane. Holiday food can produce a lot of gas-methane to us braniacs. Festivus revelers would stick tubing in the appropriate places (you can look it up) to capture that methane, and use it to heat the home, cook holiday meals or light up the neighborhood.
Serve Snails as appetizers. Not from France, but your own garden varieties. They are Free Range, organic locally produced, high in protein, easy to outrun and animal rights advocates don’t care about them because they are not cute.
Save Holiday Urine. There’s always a lot of beer drinking during the holidays, and researchers have been creating bioplastics from urine, so Festivus celebrations could include collecting the urine and making bioplastics from it. At least pee outdoors or save it in buckets and use for watering outdoors plants—saves water and recycles a resource rather than peeing it away.
Cast Iron Roadkill Cooking Contest. See how many new holiday dishes from leftovers or roadkill you can cook in cast iron. My favorite is yesterday’s oatmeal with snails.
You can find out more about Festivus and get ideas directly from Allen Salkin, the Author of Festivus: A Holiday for the Rest of Us
Have a Happy Festivus from the Rest of Us at Greenopolus!
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