Most of these critics have in mind some idealized image of what Christmas is supposed to be all about. To wit, "a good, merry winter celebration with the tree, the turkey, and the presents, customs mostly borrowed from pagan traditions." Compare Bill McKibben's description: "Christmas is a school for consumerism—in it we learn to equate delight with materialism. We celebrate the birth of One who told us to give everything to the poor by giving each other motorized tie racks.” This reflects a certain cynicism, but at least it is not blind to the way in which Christmas is super-saturated with the imperative to buy, buy, buy. The point is put with neutral understatement on Wikipedia's page on Christmas: "Christmas has become a major event for many retailers."
Against this frenzy of consumerism Festivus was born according to the Seinfeld episode:
- Frank Costanza: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon him, I realized there had to be another way.
- Cosmo Kramer: What happened to the doll?
- Frank Costanza: It was destroyed. But out of that a new holiday was born: a Festivus for the rest of us!