Son Of Zorn's Grafelnik Faces Seinfeld's Festivus In The Battle Of The Vengeful Holidays
If you don't celebrate any religious winter holidays, you have alternatives. Which of the ones that originated in sitcoms is superior?
Which holiday is more destructive?
Grafelnik is a Zephyrian holiday -- which happens to fall on December 25 this year, in case you were planning to celebrate it yourself -- that...well, I'll just let Zorn tell it: "As legend has it, a long time ago, Lord Grafelnik was trying to reconnect with his daughter, but she wanted to study in Europe, where she caught the eye of some dangerous types and ended up getting kidnapped. The only person who could get her back was Lord Grafelnik himself....You see, Lord Grafelnik had a very specific set of skills, and he used those skills to get revenge while killing, like, everyone and rescuing his precious daughter." Zephyrians celebrate the holiday by taking revenge on those who've wronged them, which can take the form of breaking shit with Grafelnik snowballs (Grafelnik snowballs are rocks), choking a co-worker more than halfway to death, or destroying an entire shopping mall Santa's Village.
Festivus is a holiday "for the rest of us" that Frank Constanza invented ("He's so prolific!" - Kramer) as an alternative to the commercialism of Christmas and Hanukkah. From what we see in the 1997 Seinfeld episode "The Strike," it encompasses a "feats of strength" phase as well as a formal Airing Of Grievances directly to the offender's face: emotionally damaging, but limited to victims physically present at Festivus dinner, and not likely to involve an insurance claim. (Other than to cover a session with a therapist.)
Which has endured longer?
Hard to say, actually! One might assume that Grafelnik has been part of Zephyrian lore dating back centuries, but we don't actually know how much or how fast the culture of Zephyria is evolving. Maybe Grafelnik is only as old as, say, Kwanzaa. Or maybe, given the similarities between the story of Grafelnik and the story of Taken, it's quite a bit younger.
As for Festivus: Frank conceived it during George's childhood, so it's been around since sometime in the '60s.
Winner: Festivus, by default.
Which is more widely celebrated?
While we may reasonably presume that Grafelnik is a holiday reverently/chaotically observed across Zephyria -- and has, apparently, also crossed over into Orange County, as we learn in the latest Son Of Zorn that the local mall was built for Grafelnik as a revenge plot against locally owned businesses -- as far as we know, no one outside the Constanza family has celebrated Festivus since George was forced to as a kid. Even Frank couldn't keep up the tradition!
Which has better decorations?
As the creator of Festivus, Frank could define its aesthetic to conform with his own, which is why the only decorative element associated with the holiday is a bare aluminum pole.
Frank: "I find tinsel distracting."
Grafelnik's giant smelly head and eyeball garlands might seem macabre...
...but at least they show the celebrants are making an effort!
Which better incorporates the gift-giving aspect of the established religious winter holidays?
Gifts don't seem to be part of the Grafelnik tradition, though Alan does try to hack Grafelnik to pit his parents against one another so that they'll fight each other for his love by showering him with gifts. But as befits its Communist founder, Festivus doesn't have any gift-giving component at all -- not even for gifts given in spite! Seems like an oversight.
Since its introduction to TV audiences back in 1997, Festivus has made some real-world inroads: if you're very serious about conscientiously objecting to Hanukkah, Ramadan, Christmas, the solstice, Kwanzaa, and the rest, you can participate in real Festivus Feats Of Strength and decorate your home with a real Festivus pole. But if the choice is between a holiday that lets you scream reprisals in your brother's face and one that gives you license to burn down the dry cleaner that lost your favourite skirt...it's really no choice at all.