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The Christmas sweater tradition: where does it come from and who says it’s ugly?

Who ruled that Christmas sweaters are ugly? Well, a North American tradition that is celebrated on the third Friday of each December: Ugly Christmas Sweater Day (in English, Ugly Christmas Sweater).

The origins of the initiative are not clear: it is known that, since the beginning of the last century, grandmothers knitted sweaters for their children and grandchildren throughout the year and, at some point, well into the 20th century, they thought that making one with Christmas motifs could be a fun idea to combat the rigors of the cold during the month of December.

You would have to ask those children and grandchildren if they enjoyed receiving (and wearing) their ‘grandmas’ Christmas sweaters, but what does seem true is that they became popular in the 1950s, when store catalogs were filled. of the so-called Jingle Bell Sweaters.

Three Cortefiel Christmas sweaters for this season.

These are more similar to high mountain sweaters or après skiwith geometric motifs, but they began to be made in red, green and white (the Christmas colors par excellence until gold and silver also became fashionable) and to include some discreet Christmas details, for the big fans of Christmas.

They were not ugly models at all, and they found a clear market niche, as many consumers found them very cheerful and original, as well as a way to foster the Christmas spirit. And the grandmothers continued knitting, encouraged by marketing and popular demand.

In the 1980s, the trend received definitive support from television and cinema. Many attribute the success to Bill Cosby, who made ugly sweaters in general fashion in the series. The Bill Cosby Hour (The Cosby Show in English), and, among them, some Christmas ones, very striking, with exaggerated drawings and colors.

From that moment on, television series began to include them in all their Christmas episodes; However, it would be the 21st century that would transform it into a authentic Christmas tradition and a multimillion-dollar business.

From left From left to right: Designs by C&A, Lefties and Kiabi.

In 2002, Canadian entrepreneurs Chris Boyd and Jordan Birch decided to organize an event, called The Original Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, to raise funds for the fight against cancer. Celebrated in the Commodore Ballroom of the city of Vancouver, the dress code I only required wearing an ugly Christmas sweater.

The party was a success and inspired other companies to hold similar Christmas celebrations, either for charity purposes or simply for the fun of their employees, because it is unisex, liked by those who hate more formal parties and makes it much easier to styling of those who, for example, are against wearing heels.

Pendant or ornament for the Christmas tree, in the shape of a sweater, from El Corte Inglés.

We have seen them in series and movies like the ones that appear in the collage that opens this report: Ashton Kutcher wore it in Two and a half Men; Kate McKinnon in Company Party (2016); Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel in How I met your mother and the unforgettable Betty White in Hot in Cleveland (in Spanish it was titled Queens Poker).

It was also proudly worn by John C. Reilly in Step Brothers (2008), in Spanish, Brothers for balls; James Gandolfini in Surviving Christmas (2004); Tim Allen in Santa Claus 3 (2006) and the entire Mathew Broderick family in Deck the Halls which, in Spanish, was titled A neighbor with few lights (2006).

And finally, from a list of just a few examples with which we illustrate this article: Jean Smart wore it in a jacket version in the Hallmark movie A shoe addict’s Christmas (2018), Jim Carrey in The Grinch (2000), Alfonso Ribeiro in The prince of Bel Air, and the members of the series Modern Family in all types of models.

‘Home Alone’ inspires many models on sale, just like the one Colin Firth wore in ‘Bridget Jones’.

You will surely discover many more in the Christmas movies that are once again invading the television schedule these days. Some already legendary due to reruns, are also protagonists of some of the most sought-after designs for Christmas sweaters, such as Home alone (1990).

But it was the movie The diaryof Bridget Jones (2001) which would culminate his conversion into a pop culture icon. And in 2012, three brothers from Detroit, Fred, Mark and Vanessa Hajjar, purchased the domain and today, a decade later, They invoice almost six million euros, with the sale of Christmas sweaters.

Actor Colin Firth’s ugly Christmas sweater in the movie ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’.

This website is dedicated to designing, customizing and selling them: you can find 3D sweaters (with dinosaurs, plastic cups and all kinds of objects added to the front or back), others with lights that turn on and off (which Christmas tree) or collections for the couple or the whole family to wear the same model.

From left Left to right: Designs from C&A, Primark and Lefties, inspired by The Grinch.

Today, Christmas Sweater Day (also without the adjective ugly) It is celebrated in schools, offices and even in small towns from the United States, in which there are even contests (the ugliest, the most beautiful, the most original, the best handmade).

From left Left to right: Proposals from Kiabi, H&M and El Corte Inglés.

Also in Spain, where for a decade it has been gaining ground and returns every Christmas to stores, shop windows, catalogues, cabinets and events such as nougat and Polvorones. But not all of them are ugly, and they have become a different alternative to dress at some of the dinners, parties and other events that are celebrated during this time.

From left From left to right: Kiabi, H&M and Lefties models.

It is especially appreciated by those who spend these dates in the snow or in some place where low temperatures do not recommend long, flowing dresses or stilettos. And also for those who want to give an original gift to their secret friend or establish a ‘family uniform’ for one of the Christmas parties.

From left To right: H&M models (first and third) and Lloyd’s in El Corte Inglés.

There are them with very different Christmas motifs: from Santa Claus to snowmen, reindeer, Christmas trees, snowflakes, candy canes or gingerbread cookies in the shape of a little man. But designs have evolved and today, fans of Star WarsDisney or Snoopy characters also have many models to choose from.

From left to right and from top to bottom: Pull & Bear models (first, third, fourth and sixth); Lefties (second), Etsy (seventh) and C&A (fifth and eighth).

If you don’t have a grandmother who makes it for you with great love and enthusiasm, Cortefiel, El Corte Inglés, Lefties, H&M, C&A, Etsy, Pull & Bear and other brands offer them every year and have turned it into a tradition. And you can always do it yourself, as Pepita Marín recommended to us, We are knitterswhen we interviewed her in MagasIN.

Or you can try your luck at second-hand stores. And so, In the process, you combat the waste and pollution that is sometimes attributed to the fashion sector, but you sign up for the trend that is here to stay, that of the Christmas sweater. The ugly thing is a matter of taste and, as the traditional people say: “For tastes, the colors.”

Vanessa Friedman, fashion expert, wrote a year ago in The New York Times: “Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but so is its opposite. What for one person is an ugly Christmas sweater, for another it is a charming nod to the holidays.”

They can include messages, more or less spicy and fun, and there are some that contain tinsel, music and lights to illuminate Vigo (with a switch included), which ensures a triumphant entrance at any event. Of course, they are the best option to cheer up those who feel sad at this time or to humorously cope with the taunts of brothers-in-law (and sisters-in-law).

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