When Seinfeld writer Dan O’keefe unleashed Festivus on the world in 1997, the last thing he expected was for anyone to actually care. But with Festivus poles under fire in Wisconsin and Florida this week, the only surprising thing might be that it took this long for the outrage to start.
The Festivus pole, a key element in the celebration of the pop culture “non-holiday,” serves as a minimalist version of the decadent Christmas trees we’re all so familiar with. You can make it out of whatever you want, and one Florida man erected one out of Pabst Blue Ribbon cans—an act to which is Christian neighbors have taken offense. Mainly because its in the state house rotunda as a protest piece.
The issue quickly has become a political one, with Fox grabbing on to the story straightaway. Since then, O’Keefe has responded to all the furvor:
"For better or worse, this is the most recognizable thing I've ever done on TV...which is to say my career peaked at age 26, maybe...But I am honored to have this wart on a very lovely pair of buttocks in the pop-culture spectrum."
So, to paraphrase the man himself: relax. O’keefe’s father created the tradition, springing it on his kids whenever he felt like it as a fun holiday activity. He fought against its inclusion in Seinfeld, but ultimately lost, leaving his family’s weird tradition to become one of the most popular pop culture activities to date.
But if Festivus—the holiday for the rest of us—is supposed to teach us anything, its that there’s room for celebration and non-celebration alike around the holidays. Even if Fox News doesn’t say so.