It’s hard to believe the irreverent sitcom Seinfeld went off the air more than 20 years ago. Still, the show’s popularity is arguably as big as it has ever been thanks to its unforgettable characters, catchphrases, and storylines—not to mention its easy accessibility via streaming. Many themes covered in the show’s nine-year run are evergreen, including some holiday-themed episodes that left a lasting impression on pop culture. As another year is headed for the books, it seems like an appropriate time to look back at some of the sitcom's most memorable holiday moments.
1. "The Strike" // Season 9; Episode 10
It’s difficult to put the infamous Festivus episode anywhere on the list except for number 1. This final season affair has become synonymous with the holidays and societal lexicon. Celebrated annually on December 23, the episode uses a real show writer’s childhood as inspiration for the Costanza family's faux-Christmas holiday that includes a metal pole, an “airing of grievances” and the “feats of strength.” This Frank Costanza-heavy episode includes references to The Human Fund (George's favorite fake charity) along with a hilarious plotline of Kramer going back to work at H&H Bagels following a 12-year strike. A slew of characters and events, including George’s boss Mr. Kruger, cause Frank to deem it “the best Festivus ever.”
2. "The Race" // Season 6; Episode 10
“I choose not to run.” Superman super fan Jerry is dating a woman named Lois, who works for his former high school rival, Duncan Meyer—who is still is enraged by the the belief that Jerry won a track race back in their school days by cheating. Meanwhile, Kramer takes on the role of a department store Santa Clause, with Mickey as his elf. But after Elaine’s Communist boyfriend, Ned, fills Kramer’s head with propaganda, both Kramer and Mickey get fired due to Kramer spreading the same propaganda to a child. The episode famously ends with a street scene and Kramer’s car sounding like a starting gun, allowing Jerry to defeat Duncan again (before winking into the camera).
3. "The Pick" // Season 4; Episode 13
“You want a Christmas card?” Kramer convinces Elaine to let him photograph her for a Christmas card, which she sent out to all her friends and relatives—including her 10-year-old nephew, a nun, and her semi-religious boyfriend—only to discover that her nipple was showing. Jerry brings in Newman to see if he would notice the nipple, which he did. Jerry tells her it is just “a little round circular protuberance,” lifting his shirt up along with Kramer. Later, with Elaine’s coworkers now calling her “Nip,” George asks why he never got a card. Elaine gives him his “card” by grabbing his head and rubbing it into her chest.
4. "The Mom & Pop Store" // Season 6; Episode 8
Remembered for its connection to actor Jon Voight and his alleged 1989 LeBaron convertible, this was the series’ highlight when it came to Thanksgiving. Jerry was the only of the four friends not to be formally invited to Tim Whatley’s Thanksgiving party. Meanwhile, Elaine successfully helps her boss, Mr. Pitt, identify a song (“Next Stop Pottersville”) so that he could hold the Woody Woodpecker balloon during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Jerry crashed Whatley’s party and inadvertently knocked an Empire State Building replica statue out of the apartment window, deflating Woody and drawing ire from Whatley.
5. "The Red Dot" // Season 3; Episode 12
“Was that wrong? Should I not have done that?” This was one of those lasting episodes in which the show took something like alcoholism and “falling off the wagon” and used it as comedy gold during Elaine’s office Christmas party (which featured the first on-air reference to Pendant Publishing and Mr. Lippman). The holiday didn’t work out too well for George. He purchased a flawed cashmere sweater on discount due to a conspicuous red dot, enraging Elaine. The same sweater later got George fired from Pendant after he gave it to a foreign cleaning lady whom he had gotten intimate with earlier in the episode.
6. "The Millennium" // Season 8; Episode 20
In light of holiday attribution, this one gets a pass because the millennium was a special experience. Kramer’s friendship with Jerry is put to this test in this episode, as Newman intends to host a rival millennium party, “Newmannium,” to which Jerry is not invited. But when Elaine plans to attend Kramer’s shindig, Newman allows Jerry to come just so he can see Elaine. The episode culminates with Jerry calling out Newman for scheduling his party one year too late, as the millennium New Year's Eve would fall on December 31, 2000
7. "The Label Maker" // Season 6; Episode 12
In the United States, professional football is king and the Super Bowl is an annual event of major proportions. As such, we're taking the liberty to include Super Bowl Sunday as an official holiday. This episode, which popularized the term “re-gifter” and featured a heated game of Risk, involves a pair of Super Bowl tickets changing hands numerous times. It also introduces viewers to Dr. Tim Whatley, played by Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston. Following a postponed wedding and palpable sexual tension between Whatley and Elaine, the episode ends with Jerry and Newman at the big game, with Jerry as annoyed as ever.
8. "The Puerto Rican Day" // Season 9; Episode 20
Seinfeld's second-to-last episode ever was actually the second-highest rated episode in the show’s history, and also one of his most controversial. The episode involved the four friends getting stuck in a car jam in Manhattan during the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. Even during the time of its airing, it was deemed controversial due to Kramer accidentally lighting the Puerto Rican flag on fire and stomping on it. The furor even caused NBC to issue a public apology and promise not to air the episode again on its network. That changed just a few years later, in 2002, when the episode was shown in full in syndication.
9. "The Gum" // Season 7; Episode 10
This episode is most well-known for Kramer befriending “crazy” Lloyd Braun and reopening the vacant Alex Theatre. Like The Andrea Doria (see below), this was another episode released during the Christmas season that essentially ignored the flair of the holiday. But the difference in the two is that along with decorations noticeable to any viewer, "The Gum" features references to the merriment. Along with famous Monk’s cashier Ruthie Cohen wishing George a “Merry Christmas” after his car catches on fire, Kramer does the same to him in offering George his vehicle anytime he needs it. A despondent George simply replies, “Whatever.”
10. "The Andrea Doria" // Season 8; Episode 10
The season eight episode is technically a Christmas episode, evident by the slew of decorations that hang all around Monk’s Café. However, that’s about where the yuletide fun stops in this plotline, which is famous for George Costanza delivering his best “woe is me” story in an attempt to win over a tenant association with his never-ending bad luck so that he might be awarded an apartment. His competition? A survivor of the Andrea Doria, the famed Italian ocean liner that capsized and sunk just off the coast of Nantucket on July 25, 1956. As usual, it didn’t work out for old George.