The New Mistletoe

Mistletoe, eggnog and wreaths have long been synonymous with the holiday season. But these time treasured symbols have been kicked to the curb by the latest and seemingly enduring holiday custom, the ugly Christmas sweater. While many people believe that this practice began in the mid-eighties by The Cosby Show’s Clarence Huxtable and National Lampoon’s Clark Griswald, it was actually during the 1950’s that these ‘Jingle Bell’ sweaters originally emerged. Worn mainly by entertainers such as Andy Williams, the fashion item didn’t really take hold in the mainstream until the early 2000’s when Bridget JonesDiarys Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) was seen sporting a ‘jumper’ featuring a red-nosed reindeer. It was then that the fortunes of the ugly Christmas sweater tradition took hold and have become a ubiquitous feature of our holiday season landscape. Did you know that the first officially recorded Ugly Christmas Sweater party was hosted by Chris Boyd and Jordan Birch at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver in 2002.

How ugly is ugly? The sky’s the limit!! There is no limit to the gaudiness of the garment. And the best part of this practice is that anyone can do it…and apparently everyone is! There are books on how to throw UCS parties and on making your own creations! Social media has made it possible for the fetching images of far-flung fashion faux-pas to be seen around the world. Businesses have jumped on board creating their own designs and ways to celebrate UCS wearers. There are even official rules on how to judge best and worst UCS contests. And to further honour this custom, the third Friday in December is now officially Ugly Sweater Day!! While that day has passed, it’s never to late to join in on the fun. Whether you make your own or buy one of the many choices offered by retailers, wear your sweater with pride and joy under the mistletoe with an eggnog in hand!