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State Capitols Celebrate the Real Gem of the Holiday Season: Festivus State Capitols Celebrate the Real Gem of the Holiday Season: Fest... State Capitols Celebrate the Real Gem of the Holiday Season: Festivus State Capitols Celebrate ...

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State Capitols Celebrate the Real Gem of the Holiday Season: Festivus

It's the holiday for Florida, Wisconsin, and the rest of us.

A Festivus display in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington.(Flickr/randomduck)

photo of Matt  Berman
December 9, 2013

It's nearly Festivus! And to celebrate, at least a couple state capitols are getting ready to take out the poles and air the grievances.

What is Festivus, exactly? Festivus is the, originally fictional, "Festivus for the Restivus" created by Frank Costanza in a 1997 episode of Seinfeld. As legend has it, Costanza created the holiday when he failed to acquire a doll for his son George when he was a child. It's celebrated on Dec. 23 by "gathering your family around and telling them all the ways they have disappointed you in the last year," a practice more formally referred to as "the airing of the grievances." Instead of a tree, there is a bare aluminum pole to rally around. The holiday also features feats of strength, when the head of the household challenges someone else to a wrestling match.

The Wisconsin and Florida state capitols will both have Festivus poles on display this holiday season. In Wisconsin, a silver pole is already standing between two nativity scenes in the packed rotunda. A sign hangs on the pole promising an airing of the grievances on the 23rd, but no feats of strength "due to liability issues."


In Florida, where a standard Festivus pole wouldn't quite be appropriately weird enough, a nearly 6-foot-tall poll made out of empty PBR cans will go up this week in the Capitol building. The pole will be on the same floor of the rotunda as the more standard nativity scene that's been up since last week. Chaz Stevens, who was the Florida resident to apply to put up the Festivus display, says that he considers it his "ridiculous statement versus what I consider, as an atheist, as their ridiculous statement."

America: where freedom of religion means stuffing a cramped rotunda for a week or so with a diorama on the birth of Jesus and a stack of empty beer cans. Or, well, at least that's the case in Florida.

In the war on Christmas, Hanukkah, and the general holiday season, Festivus always wins.

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