It takes place every December, before dinner parties and cocktail events. My husband rummaged through the depths of his closet, shoving sweaters around like a pile of autumn leaves, until he triumphantly appeared with the knit he was looking for: the magic item. That phone, the ugly Christmas sweater.
Not that this is really an ugly Christmas sweater. It is, in fact, (and in honor of our interfaith affiliation), an ugly Christmukkah cardigan, knitted in particularly colorful shades of acrylic and featuring Rudolph with a the menorah instead of antlers. A menorah, at the push of a button, will light up. Every time I watch it, I can’t help but smile.
Today, the ugly Christmas sweater is a subgenre of knitwear and an art form in itself: transcendental irony, ludicrous; frosted with tinsel, sparkles, snowmen and other Santa clichés; the gift of a giggle to all of us. It is an expression of a hobby so bad as to be wonderful, and never more necessary at a difficult time. (in years, in history) when emotions are high.
That’s why the ugly Christmas sweater has been around – and really thrived – for decades. “Clinking bell sweater” first appeared on store shelves in the 1950s, a foreshadowing of the coming commercialized festive season. But, in an evolution of a very special kind, the sweater has transcended ka-Ching in its origin to become a gesture of faith.
While at first appearance, jingle bell sweaters looked almost Nordic, by the 1980s those relatively elegant snowflakes and reindeer had morphed into pop culture kits tall, thanks in part to “The Cosby Show,” where Bill Cosby’s Cliff Huxtable grew up. all stock when it comes to colorful knitwear.
His sweaters were worn only by the Griswolds’ sweaters in 1989’s “Lampoon National Christmas Vacation,” a film starring not only Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo but There’s also a collection of eye-catching holiday yarns. Colin Firth gave the outfit a whole different vibe when he grimaced over his cartoon reindeer suit playing Mark Darcy in “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” and by 2002, the Austrian party Ugly Christmas wool is officially born – the brainchild of two Canadians, according to “The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book: The Definitive Guide to Dressing Ugly.”
Social media gave new impetus to this trend, and ultimately led to by Jimmy Fallon “12 Days of Christmas Sweaters,” not to mention 53 different ugly Christmas sweaters for sale on Amazon, thousands of Ugly Christmas sweater styles on Etsy as well as Poshmark (all Christmas sweaters). those ugly things have to go somewhere) and DIY tutorials by companies like Woolmark. There are ugly Christmas sweater appendages such as coloring book, books for childrenand even gingerbread man. And, of course, the Ugly Christmas Sweater competitions at work (The New York Times has one of them).
However, having judged such a contest, I think it’s fair to say, given its ability to brighten their mood at any given moment; to clearly show human lightness and as a reminder that while life is serious, clothes can be fun, most of the ugliest Christmas sweaters are really – well , pretty.