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National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

Gaudy and garish; hand-knit and glued; red and green; covered with snowmen, reindeer, and Christmas trees—these are just a few of the ways an ugly Christmas sweater might be described. They are worn all day on National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, no matter the circumstances. No matter if someone needs to be at work or at school; no matter if they have to attend a wedding or a funeral—an ugly Christmas sweater must be worn. The creators of the day have called it "a day of light hearted fun and a day to be yourself and not that buttoned up corporate version of yourself you have grown to despise." Taking place on the third Friday of December each year, the day adds extra fun to the holidays.

Ugly Christmas sweaters—sometimes simply known as "Christmas sweaters," or as "jumpers" in the United Kingdom—permeated culture in the 1980s, gaining in popularity and becoming ironic fashion statements. Cliff Huxtable of The Cosby Show, played by Bill Cosby, was known for wearing ugly sweaters. Then, Chevy Chase wore ugly sweaters with a holiday twist in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Christmas sweaters also were worn by singers Val Doonican and Andy Williams in their Christmas specials, helping bring the apparel into the public consciousness. In the United Kingdom, the sweaters gained in popularity after they were worn by television personalities Gyles Brandreth and Timmy Mallett during the holiday season. The sweaters went out of vogue during the 1990s and commonly were seen as gag gifts.

In the early 2000s, what may have been the first ugly holiday sweater party was held in Vancouver, Canada, which helped rekindle interest in ugly sweaters. The sweater parties spread across the United States, and as the 2000s progressed, the sweaters once again gained in popularity. They were very popular again by the 2010s when they were seen as campy costumes. Ugly Christmas sweater contests were common, and the sweaters were used as merchandising gimmicks by various organizations. Ugly Christmas sweaters can regularly be found in resale and thrift stores, but many clothing retailers make them as well, including some higher-end companies.

How to Observe

The day should be observed by wearing an ugly Christmas sweater from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. It doesn't matter if you have a job interview today or a funeral or wedding to attend, you are not allowed to take your sweater off. Perhaps you have an old ugly Christmas sweater somewhere in your closet, either your own or a hand-me-down from one of your relatives. Perhaps your grandma even knit you one that you can wear!

If you can't find one at home, you should immediately go to a resale or thrift shop to look for one. If you are lucky, you'll find one from the 1980s—the first wave of ugly Christmas sweaters. If all else fails, you could make your own. You could also order one online, although this won't help you for this year's holiday. The official sponsor of the day, Tipsy Elves, sells ugly Christmas sweaters. You could purchase one from them or from one of the other preferred vendors of the creator of the holiday. Make sure to tell all your friends about the day. Another way to participate is to take part in the Save the Children "Make The World Better With a Sweater Campaign."

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