I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

November 24, 2012 - 11:19 a.m.

The Festivus Code

I didn't do much yesterday so today's the perfect day to talk about Festivus, my favorite holiday. Depending on how well you know me you might know that Festivus is my thing. But what you have to keep in mind is that it is not just a big joke. It is a big joke. That's part of why it's important. It's just not only a big joke. When I talk about Festivus I'm totally sincere. It IS my favorite holiday. Is there a holiday that's important to you? Christmas, Pesach, Thanksgiving, Independence Day? That's how I feel about Festivus. It's a big joke. Its ancient history is newly minted but that doesn't mean it isn't important.

Most people hear Festivus and they just think "Seinfeld" but there is far more to it than that. Festivus is too big to fit into one day. It's an entire season from the Day after Thanksgiving to January 25.

Here are the Principles of Festivus.

  • Freedom
  • The never ending fight for truth and justice
  • Appreciating nature
  • Caritas
  • Accepting that others will balance the competing principles differently
  • The only orthodoxy is that there is no orthodoxy
  • Presents
  • Music! How could I forget the Festivus Carols?
  • Chocolate (If you don't think chocolate is a principle you don't understand chocolate.

Festivus is a celebration of the universal parts of the holiday season. Two people may not share a god or rituals or what they think the holiday is based on but they believe in peace on earth good will to mankind. For the moment at least that value food and good cheer above gold. They believe in helping others. They believe in the joy. That's Festivus.

It isn't a war on Christmas or any belief. It isn't against anything or anyone. It's feeling you get coming in from the cold and drinking hot chocolate. It's the feeling you get walking in a door and finding people you love. It's what listening to the Hallelujah Chorus makes you feel. It's what watching "A Christmas Story" makes you feel. It's latkes. It community. It's whatever it is that makes you feel good this time of year.

It's been eight years since I laid down the history of festivus. It's time to bring you up to date with the latest discoveries.

For much of history the holiday was officially suppressed. In medieval and Renaissance Europe to celebrate Festivus was to expose yourself to the Inquisition. That did not stop the greatest minds away. Leonardo da Vinci was an initiate. He could not say so publicly but he left hints in code. The discerning eye can see that the Last Supper was actually a Festivus Feast. The master took time off from painting the Mona Lisa to help her trim her Festivus Pole with toys of his own imagining including ornithopters.

When Isaac Newton said "If I have seen further than others it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants;" he was not referring to scientists but other celebrants of Festivus. The apple did not fall from a tree but from his Festivus poll.

Shakespeare included many Festivus rituals in his plays. The entire play within a play in Hamlet was a celebration of Festivus.

When the future of the US was being planned Philadelphia in the hot summer of 1776 one of the things that Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson could agree on was the value of Festivus. Unfortunately the holiday was still officially frowned on and they could opening talk about it.

What gave Washington the spirit to lead his men through the cruel winter at Valley Forge? Festivus of course.

Years later Adams and Jefferson kept their long correspondence on the nature of man and right and wrong. Adams said:

" have learned nothing of importance to me, for they have made no change in my moral or religious creed, which has, for fifty or sixty years, been contained in four short words, "Be just and good. And of course to celebrate Festivus."
Gandhi felt that Festivus with its ancient roots in both Hindu and Islamic culture was the key to unifying India's diverse peoples.

Festivus was in the original draft of Wilson's Fourteen Points Speech, the fifteenth point. It was unfortunately left out in fear of offending some of the more bigoted members of congress.

After so many years of being suppressed the initiates decided it was time for the world at large to hear the message. In the true Festivus tradition the cloaked it in humor and wrote it into a Seinfeld script. That' probably how you first heard of it. So yes it's a joke but a joke is serious business. So don't be afraid of wishing people "Whee Festivus." It is simply wishing for others to be happy.

I'll leave you like I always do with the words of Charles Dickens in the unexpurgated version of his classic book, "A Festivus Carol."

As Tiny Tim observed, The Flying Spaghetti Monster bless us, Every One!

Whee Festivus!

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Horvendile November 24, 2012
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