Obscure Holiday: Ugly Sweater Day

December 15, 2023

We all have that sweater that we got as a holiday gift years ago and it sits in the back of our closet because it is weird or even just plain ugly. Well, today’s the day to break it out and celebrate its ugliness, as it’s Ugly Sweater Day!

Sweaters became a thing in the late 1800’s as every day where slowly evolved into what we have now. It was first defined in the Oxford Dictionary in 1882 as “A woolen vest or jersey worn in … athletic exercises, originally… to reduce one’s weight; now commonly put on also before or after exercise to prevent taking cold.” Of course, back in those days, it was more common for textiles to be handmade and show some imperfections, so typical “ugly” sweaters were probably just imperfect sweaters.

The modern view of the ugly sweater began in the 1980’s with media portraying more characters in sweaters including Bill Cosby’s character in The Cosby Show and Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Though these sweaters were not designed to be “ugly” they still caught the attention of viewers. In 2002, two guys in Vancouver, Canada, held the first “Ugly Sweater Party”, wearing throwback and tacky sweaters to raise money for their friend’s cancer treatment. With the rise in social media and online shopping in the 2010’s the holiday has become one of many “gag” holidays during December like Festivus.

Whether or not you have an ugly sweater, chances are you know someone with one so wish them a happy Ugly Sweater Day, and happy holidays for the rest of the season!

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