A Brief History of The Ugly Christmas Sweater

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They may be the tackiest item of clothing to spread holiday cheer, but have you ever wondered how the ugly sweater came to be? 

 1950s Christmas  jumpers

1950s Christmas jumpers

According to Allison Berry from TIME magazine, the sweater itself has existed since the 19th century, but holiday versions have sprung up in the last few decades. The earliest versions of the Christmas sweater can be traced back to the 1940s, originally called the Christmas jumper.

 Chevy Chase sporting an ugly sweater in  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Chevy Chase sporting an ugly sweater in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

From Christmas jumper to ugly sweater, the tradition has continued throughout the decades. Berry states that some attribute the rise of ugly sweaters to television series and movies like Bill Cosby in The Cosby Show and Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. These are some of the first instances of ironically “ugly” and highly decorated sweaters showing up in pop culture. In fact, modern sweaters are now manufactured to be intentionally tacky and sell at top dollar. 

 Modern day ugly Christmas sweater from  Nordstrom  selling for $100.

Modern day ugly Christmas sweater from Nordstrom selling for $100.

Finally, the ugly sweater has evolved into what we know as the ugly Christmas sweater. The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book says that the ugly Christmas sweater tradition really picked up in 2001 when there was a major boom for ugly sweater parties. Ugly sweater parties have become so popular that you're sure to receive an invitation in the mail or be invited to attend an ugly Christmas sweater bar crawl. Wherever the ugly Christmas sweater may take you, it's bound to be full of fun, family, friends and cheer.

Ugly Christmas sweaters aren't just an American tradition, though. The Commodore Ballroom, located in Vancouver, BC, has hosted what they call "the biggest, wildest, sweateriest bash of the season" for the past 16 years. The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book gives credit to Canada for creating this holiday tradition.

 2014 performance during the 14th annual ugly Christmas sweater party at the  Commodore Ballroom

2014 performance during the 14th annual ugly Christmas sweater party at the Commodore Ballroom

Wherever the tradition was started, it is definitely one we hope will never die out! Ugly Christmas sweaters have been making appearances for some time and they seem to be here to stay.

Start your own ugly sweater tradition by participating in one of Goodwill's Ugly Sweater Workshops, where you can create your custom one-of-a-kind festive sweater with friends!! While you're at it, enter your sweater in Goodwill's Share Your Sweater contest for a chance to win a $50 Goodwill gift card. May your holidays be creative, bright and full of ugly sweaters!