The 10 Best Cities for Festivus

Where to air your grievances and participate in the feats of strength this December 23.

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Where best to observe Christmas? Depending on whom you ask, Wheaton, Ill., or Lubbock, Texas has the most churches per capita in the United States. Where to celebrate Hanukkah? You might find good company in New York, Miami, and Philadelphia—among the most Jewish cities in America.

But what about Festivus?

[See a slideshow of the best cities for Festivus.]

The December 23 holiday is intended as a way to celebrate the holiday season without succumbing to widespread commercialism, with traditions including the Airing of Grievances, the Feats of Strength, and erecting an aluminum Festivus pole in the living room instead of a Christmas tree. Introduced to most Americans in a 1997 episode of Seinfeld, Festivus has taken on surprising cultural significance in America. U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia held a Festivus fundraiser last year, and lots and websites selling Festivus poles have popped up.

Though there is no reliable data available on aluminum poles or Festivus miracles per capita in U.S. metropolitan areas, U.S. News has taken a stab at determining the best cities in which to celebrate Festivus. Criteria include the ability to compete in the Feats of Strength (cities with low obesity rates), low levels of commercialism, as measured by the size of the retail industry (small shares of the population employed in retail), and much to complain about in the Airing of Grievances (high unemployment).

According to those criteria, these are the best places to spend Festivus 2011, of U.S. metro areas with populations of 500,000 or greater.

[See the 10 best cities for the Occupy movement.]

Metro Area Obesity Rate Retail % Unemployment Rate
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif. 18.2 9.9 9.1
Stockton, Calif.* 24 10.9 15.7
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. 21.2 10.6 9.5
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif. 24.3 10.8 11.1
Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev. 23.1 11.5 13.1
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa. 21.9 10.4 8.3
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn. 16.6 10.6 7.8
Bakersfield-Delano, Calif. 24* 11.7 13.5
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif.* 24 11.2 9.8
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, Calif. 26.1 10.6 9.7

Sources: Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics

*Obesity data not available for these cities; state obesity data used in lieu.

Frank Costanza would be proud: New York, where Seinfeld was set, managed to make it to No. 6. However, California is the clear winner; with its high unemployment rates, its residents have a natural advantage in the Airing of Grievances.

Twitter: @titonka