In my new column for Visual Thesaurus, “Happy Made-Up Holidays,” I consider winter holidays invented by marketers and television writers to capitalize on, or poke fun at, the season’s conventional rituals. My imaginarium includes Grouponicus (from online coupon merchant Groupon), Festivus (the Seinfeld invention that persisted), YOOXMAS (from e-retailer YOOX), Chrismukkah (from the TV show The O.C.), and Chrismahanukwanzakah (invented by Virgin Mobile to sell phone plans).
Access to my VT column is limited to subscribers. Here’s an excerpt to tempt you:
Grouponicus is more than simply a clever name. Its inventors have created a comprehensive mythology to support the name, complete with a totem animal (Groupo, the Bargain Bird) and eight tongue-in-cheek Grouponicus tenets. (Samples: “Believers acknowledge that all other winter holidays are obsolete”; “For the duration of Grouponicus, you cannot own a dog”; “Families gather nightly to throw a list of regrets into a backyard Regret Hole.”)
Then there’s the Grouponicus name itself. It’s recognizable as an example of Dog Latin, a humorous device that suggests scholarly seriousness. Unrelated to children’s Pig Latin (or Ig-pay Atin-lay), Dog Latin shows up in classicized university names (“Universitatis Yalensis”) and in spoofy association names such as E Clampus Vitus, a fraternal organization dedicated to the study of the history of western-states heritage, particularly that of California’s Gold Country. …
The beauty of “Grouponicus” is that the addition of a Latinate suffix turns the brand name into a compound that echoes the blended sounds of two real holiday names: Hanukkah and Christmas. The new name is credible, pronounceable, and humorous in one felicitous swoop.