Style & Beauty
The Ugliest Holiday Tradition
12/18/2015 10:25:55 AM


Over the past two decades the satirical Ugly Christmas Sweater Party has cemented its place as a modern tradition. It even claims its own holiday, National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day, on December 18.

But where did this phenomenon come from?

Over-the-top sweaters were a standard in the 1980s, so it was only a matter of time until holiday themes hit department stores. Exaggerated Christmas sweaters, adorned with large holiday images—Santa Claus, reindeer and snowmen with bows and jingle bells were popular among elementary teachers, grandmothers and great-aunts. Chevy Chase donned one in his display of ultimate Christmas spirit in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. They fell out of popularity in the 1990s.

Sometime between 2001 and 2002, when the elementary children of the 1980s grew into young adults, they sought out the sweaters of their former teachers to hold Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties. The gaudier, the better. While enthusiasts debate the origins of tradition, the City of Vancouver lays claim to being the home of the first Ugly Christmas Sweater party and holds a large annual event.The co-founders even trademarked "ugly Christmas sweater" and "ugly Christmas sweater party" in Canada.

Over the years, the parties have extended into a tradition for revelers of all ages hoping to out-do each other in red and green outrageousness; making the ugly Christmas sweater into a booming business. No one wants to be the only one at the party not in bad taste.

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