Ah, the holidays… That special time of year beginning with a glut of Christmas shopping commercials, progressing through the feasts of Thanksgiving and the tinsel/carols of Christmas, and ending with an annual doozy of a post-New Year’s Eve hangover. The time-honored traditions of the holidays extend back through the decades, but if you are a proud member of the geek community there are a few holidays that you probably didn’t know you were missing…
A Wookiee Holiday in the Star Wars Universe
Did you know that there exists a television holiday special featuring the original cast of Star Wars and (wait for it…) Bea Arthur? What sorcery is this that combines our beloved Star Wars with the future star of the hit television series The Golden Girls? Why, it’s the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special!
First airing in the United States and Canada on November 17, 1978, the story line of the Star Wars Holiday Special follows Chewbacca’s return to his home planet of Kashyyyk to celebrate the Wookiee’s sacred “Life Day” holiday with his family. The holiday special introduces us to Chewbacca’s wife, “Malla,” his father, “Itchy,” and his son, “Lumpy.” Malla prepares a Bantha rump for the family’s holiday supper by following the instructions of an eccentric, intergalactic, television cooking show host. Also, the 70’s called, and they want their “Kashyyykian” green shag carpet back.
Life Day is both a celebration of all living things and a time to remember loved ones who are no longer living. The Wookiees also make a spiritual journey to the “Life Tree”, from which, according to Kashyyykian legend, the origins of Wookiee culture began. Gifts are exchanged between family and friends, along with many other traditions like singing and feasting that mimic familiar Christmas celebrations.
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Despite a widespread negative reaction to the Star Wars Holiday Special, the Life Day holiday has resurfaced in Star Wars culture in recent years. The creators of the video game Star Wars Galaxies (2003) celebrated Life Day in the story line of the game, allowing players to participate in traditional Wookiee holiday rituals.
The Star Wars Holiday Special itself was so unpopular that it was never rebroadcast, but you can still celebrate Wookiee Life Day by watching clips of the Star Wars Holiday Special on YouTube. Wondering when you can celebrate this wondrous holiday of tall and hairy sentient mammals from another planet? Life Day has unofficially been recognized as taking place annually on December 25th (the same day as Christmas, for all you pagans out there) but it can also be celebrated as a part of our planet’s winter solstice which occurs on or around December 21st.
Festivus (for the rest of us)
An anti-commercial holiday brought to you by the TV show, Seinfeld
Are you sick of holiday retail store commercials and flashy, obnoxious Christmas decorations? Well, we’ve got a holiday for you!
Festivus was first introduced into the common vernacular on December 18th, 1997 during the 166th episode of NBC’s popular sitcom Seinfeld. In this episode, titled “The Strike,” George Costanza is reminded of traumatic childhood memories from his father Frank’s made up holiday, Festivus. The antithesis of commercial holiday celebrations, there are several very important traditions and decorations (or lack thereof) associated with Festivus. In accordance with its anti-commercial nature, preparations for these activities require very little effort, and we have listed them here for your convenience (so you don’t even have to Google it)!
The Aluminum Pole
Throw out your garish and glittering Christmas tree. Celebrators of Festivus opt for an unassuming and unblemished aluminum pole. You can find a suitable aluminum pole in your garage or basement (think flag pole or shower curtain rod), or you can be really lazy and buy an official Festivus pole online. Suspend this aluminum pole upright on one end in a place where its blandness can be admired by all. Do not decorate the pole. As Frank Costanza once said, “I find tinsel distracting.”
The Traditional Festivus Dinner
Festivus is an opportunity for loved ones to gather around the table to consume a modest and unexciting meal together. There is no official menu on record, but in “The Strike,” the Costanzas served what appeared to be a meatloaf and spaghetti with red sauce. Be creative with your lack of creativity and serve the most lackluster weekday meal you can think of. Remember, we are celebrating an anti-holiday here.
The Airing of Grievances
This cherished tradition is a time for family and friends to share their annoyances freely with all in attendance. Think of this as a “cleansing ritual.” It is an occasion to voice your irritation and tell everyone how you really feel about them specifically, or regarding your life in general. Don’t be shy!
The Feats of Strength
Challenge a family member or guest to perform a “feat of strength.” These feats should be performed in an open space free of breakable items with plenty of room for other guests to openly gawk. Feats may include Greco-Roman wrestling or a less vigorous arm wrestling match. Heavy objects may be thrown to demonstrate strength. The Festivus holiday is officially over when the host of the house has been wrestled and pinned to the ground.
OK, this is the anti-holiday for me, where do I sign up? Festivus takes place annually on December 23rd, so put up your aluminum pole and get ready to witness a Festivus miracle!