In 1997 the hit comedy series Seinfeld featured a story line focusing on how Frank Costanza created the fabulous holiday of Festivus. While many of us remember Festivus from this episode, it was actually created in 1966 by an author and editor, Daniel O’Keefe – the father of TV writer Dan O’Keefe. The origin of this holiday is interesting and unique to the O’Keefe family, but ultimately Festivus became popular due to the TV show. In 1997 Festivus became a way of celebrating a day that is an alternative to the commercialization of Christmas. Finally, there was Festivus for the rest of us!

March 26th is Make Up Your Own Holiday day. While Festivus was created among the O’Keefe family as a way to celebrate an anniversary, the mention of it on a hit TV propelled it into the public sphere and suddenly it became a holiday that people began to celebrate. All because of one man’s imagination.

Have you ever thought about creating your own holiday? What is actually involved in doing that? What do you need to put together to make a day one that you celebrate?

What is a holiday?

A holiday is a seen as a special day during the year when your typical, normal, day-to-day activities are temporarily interrupted. Instead, you go to a special place, prepare a special meal, and decorate your home in a special way.

But most holidays don’t just arrive out of thin air. Even these wacky holidays that KTMS has been acknowledging and celebrating have been thoroughly thought out and aspects of the celebration have been created with specifics in mind.

Making Up a Holiday

So, what goes in to making up a holiday and what developmental skills can be used when doing this? Well, first, you must think about what you want to celebrate. Do you want this holiday to be fun? Should it be commemorating something? Will it help build interest in a particular topic or draw attention to a meaningful movement or cause?

Engage your child in being creative. Ask open ended questions – questions that cannot be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – such as “If you could celebrate anything, what would you like to celebrate?” or “Today we’re going to think of a way to bring awareness to children that are hungry. What do you think is a way that we can do that?”

Executive Functioning

Making up a holiday actually uses many executive functioning skills. Executive functioning is a set of mental skills that are used every day to learn, work and manage life. The skills involve memory, flexible thinking, planning, time management and organization. Pretty much every skill that is needed to create and follow through with celebrating a holiday.

Think about it…how many things are associated with a holiday such as Halloween? There is a specific date assigned to it. There are particular traditions that people participate in. Certain colors are associated with the holiday. Families engage in events such as going to the pumpkin patch or going Trick-or-Treating.

There is so much planning, organizing and thinking that happens when we celebrate a holiday. Getting the decorations just right…remembering to purchase the special food or décor that helps signify the holiday.

Why Start a Holiday?

More importantly, why not? We celebrate anniversaries, right? The anniversary of a first date, a move, a wedding, etc. Why not celebrate something that is special to your child. And then continue to celebrate it every year? This holiday does not need to be a nationally recognized one. But as long as it is meaningful to your family it can continue to grow into a tradition that is celebrated annually.

So go ahead, encourage your child to flex their imagination and see what they would like to celebrate. You may be surprised at what they come up with. 😊