The Festivus Pole
The Festivus tradition is centered around the display of an unadorned aluminum pole. The Festivus Pole is the ultimate symbol of an anti-Christmas holiday, it is plain looking, unencumbered by branches and decorations, and it is relatively inexpensive.
In Seinfeld, Frank Costanza chose the unadorned aluminum pole as a symbol in direct opposition to a decorated Christmas tree. Frank also claimed that he "finds tinsel distracting."
Kramer: Is there a tree?
Frank Costanza: No. Instead, there's a pole. Requires no decoration. I find tinsel distracting.
In addition, Frank Costanza praised the aluminum pole for its "very high strength-to-weight ratio."
Frank Costanza: It's made from aluminum. Very high strength-to-weight ratio.
Kruger: I find your belief system fascinating.
After the celebration is over, it is not uncommon for the pole to be placed in an out-of-the-way location, such as a crawl space; a tradition derived from a comment Frank made to Kramer: "I'll get the pole from the crawlspace".
The Festivus Pole was a creation of Seinfeld script writers. There was no unadorned aluminum pole in the original Festivus as described by writer Dan O'Keefe. However, the Festivus pole is a fun addition to the Festivus story!
How to get a Festivus Pole?
Of course you can buy a Festivus Pole. There are places on the web where you can order one, such as FestivusPoles.com. The website is maintained by a metal manufacturer, "The Wagner Companies", and based in Milwaukee Wisconsin. They produce an excellent product, which is guaranteed to be actual aluminum! Other poles you might buy online may be steel or even plastic.
Of course, you can also buy an aluminum pole from the local hardware store, and fashion a stand in your workshop, or use a an old Christmas tree stand.
Some people like to stick with the basics. Keep in mind, Frank Costanza didn't purchase his Festivus pole from a web site. To a "Costanza", Festivus poles don't come from a commercial entity. They come from the crawlspace, not the mailman! If you desire an authentic Festivus experience you might take this into consideration.
Advice: Go to your crawlspace (or attic, basement or closet) and find out what you do have. Do you have an old lamp pole, curtain rod? Maybe a wooden plank or a cardboard tube you could cover in aluminum foil? Anything that is non-commercial and non-flashy. That is the true spirit of Festivus for some.
If you are bound and determined to have an actual aluminum pole then go to the junkyard and find one. If that fails then buy one online or go to the hardware store and buy a cheap piece of aluminum tube. Make sure that you are rude to the salesperson and try to barter the price down, because that's what Frank Costanza would have done. :)
Tip: Festivus! The Book has an entire chapter dedicated to Festivus Poles!
How to decorate a Festivus Pole
Do not decorate your Festivus Pole.
Festivus Pole Care
Here are some tips for the care of your Festivus Pole:
- You don't really need to do anything to the pole. Just bring it out at Festivus time, and display it. When Festivus is over put the pole away in a safe place like a crawlspace, attic, garage or shed.
- Don't polish it, even if it looks dingy. It is suppose to look that way.
- If the dog pees on it, then you should probably wash it, but don't polish it.
- If the pole is shiny don't worry about reducing its luster and making it look plainer. That's too much work.
Festivus Pole Safety Tips
Here are some safety tips for the use of your Festivus Pole:
- Don't let any of the guests climb the Festivus Pole.
- A Festivus pole is not a "Dancing" pole.
- During the Feats of Strength, don't let anyone joust with the Festivus Pole.
- If the pole is outdoors in below zero temperatures, don't let anyone lick the pole. It's tempting, but don't let them do it!