ONE THOUSAND years from this Monday, people around the world will celebrate Festivus by airing their grievances, displaying feats of strength and praising the miracle of a towering pole made of beer cans.
That’s the way the rituals of mankind evolve, isn’t it? From a simple act – a child born in a manger – to the sacred.
It’s been 16 years since the writers of the sitcom “Seinfeld” first alerted us to the wonders of Festivus, the goofy secular solstice festival “for the rest of us.” A mere blink of the eye in terms of humankind.
Yet already, the fictional fest has evolved from grouchy Frank Costanza revealing his unadorned Festivus pole (“I find tinsel distracting”) to an actual pole erected inside the Florida Capitol, where it joined, in the words of the Tallahassee Democrat, “a manger depicting the birth of Jesus and a . . . menorah in celebration of Hanukkah.” Like the fake Flying Spaghetti Monster deity, Festivus poles have emerged as a lighthearted satire of religious displays on public property.
This pole was installed by Chaz Stevens, 49, a self-described political blogger and “professional troublemaker.” The silly protest kicked off immediate national harrumphing in the right-wing pundit sector. Fox News called it more evidence of the “War on Christmas” or – in Stephen Colbert’s mocking view – the “Blitzkrieg on Grinchitude.”
What caught my eye, though, was that Stevens chose to construct his pole with Pabst Blue Ribbon empties.
Were we witnessing an important step in the evolution of a holy day? Strong alcoholic beverages were a component of early solstice festivals. Was beer drinking to become a rite of Festivus, too?