Festivus is real? I was today years old when I found out. Originally created by author Daniel O’Keefe as a secular alternative holiday focused on resisting commercialism, Festivus rose to meteoric fame when featured in an episode of Seinfeld in 1997. For those interested in feats of strength, the airing of grievances, and dinner by the Festivus pole, the Seinfeld-sanctioned official celebration date is Dec 23.
For those of us in the real world, the holidays mean joining — or avoiding — traditions passed down from our families, including cultural and religious celebrations. Below are a few happenings from now thru Jan 2021 to check out.
In Christian circles, Christmastime is when the birth of the savior Jesus Christ is commemorated. As the story goes, all the country folk of pre-Israel Judea were traveling to the big city to be counted for the census. A very pregnant Mary — Jesus’ mother to be — needed to rest, but there was no room in “the” inn or any inn for that matter. Luckily, a pre-Airbnb barn situation was arranged for the travelers (3 stars, would stay again). Called the Nativity, modern churches reenact this scenario seasonally. From 6-8pm Dec 12-13, you can see this Christmas story come to life with actors and live animals at St. John’s Lutheran Church (1218 E Debbie Ln, Mansfield, 817-473-4889). St. John’s Drive-Thru Nativity features nine scenes and is free to the public.
If you are of the Jewish faith and looking for a little road trip, head to the Simpson Plaza right outside Frisco City Hall (6101 Frisco Square Blvd, 972-292-8000) at 4pm on Dec 13 for the 7th annual community Chabad of Frisco Chanukah Celebration. Along with the giant menorah lighting, there will be treats, dreidels, a balloon artist, and crafts for the kids. Distribution of the goodies will be contactless, social distancing is a must, and families will be seated in family pods, so this is a COVID-safe event. Jewish musician Yoel Sharabi will be performing classic and modern Israeli songs. This event is free to attend, but donations are welcome at ChabadFrisco.org.
Virtual runs have become all the rage, with many being fundraising efforts not unlike real 5K runs. In a world that is smaller than ever, this means you can support communities and benefit efforts around the world — not just locally — through a variety of online events. For example, Fit Black & Educated — a nonprofit group empowering African Americans in San Diego — is hosting Kwanzaa Virtual 5K from Dec 26 to Jan 1. The race theme is umoja (unity), which is the first principle of the Kwanzaa holiday created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga after the Watts riots in Los Angles to bring the community together. Participants receive a finisher’s medal and a digital finisher’s certificate and race bib, plus sunglasses for the first 150 people. Registration is $30 at Kwanzaa5K.com.
The yin to the European Santa-like person Saint Nicholas is Krampus, a half-goat, half-demon entity who punishes misbehaving children during Yule (a.k.a. Christmas). On Sat from noon to 5pm, join the folks at Fort Witch (1424 Brown Tr, Ste E, Bedford) as they celebrate with a Krampus Day Yule Mini Pop-Up. Fort Witch — the “little witch shop around the corner” that is “a place, a community, a coven” — is a retail shop with candles, gift items, herbs, stationery, stickers, and more. For Krampus Day, there will be additional vendors on-site, plus there may (or may not) be opportunities to take photos with Krampus. Attend and see.
Now is the time for Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year in the Northern hemisphere, marking the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun. With the global pandemic still a concern, even the ancients have gone virtual. On Mon, Dec 21, from sunset at 16:01 GMT on Sun, Dec 20, thru sunrise at 8:09 GMT (and for 45 minutes before and after), join a livestream at Stonehenge hosted by English Heritage — a British nonprofit group that maintains more than 400 historic buildings and monuments in England. The event is free at Facebook.com/EnglishHeritage.