Have Yourself an Ugly, Little Christmas

Chad W. Lutz
In 1995, we used to rue and lament the moments when mom would suddenly whip out "a special Christmas surprise." We all knew what that meant. Two seconds later, we were staring down horrific odes to Pat Catan's; globs of puffy paint circumnavigating googly eyeballs tacked to poorly hand-drawn reindeer or Santas painted on with beards that look like scoops of vanilla ice cream. Hand-me-downs so vile the homeless wouldn't even want to wear them. Fast-forward twenty-five years and we find ourselves receiving party invites with bold headings like "Ugliest Sweater Contest" or "Tacky Sweater Party". It's become so prevalent even night clubs and gala events host "Ugly Christmas Sweater" themes. So what is it about Ugly Christmas Sweaters that has changed since the 1990s? Time, apparently, and America's modern affinity for irony.

We live in very hypocritical times. Our politicians say one thing and then do another. Our businesses say one thing and then do another. Our loved ones say one thing and then do another. But our sweaters, they tell the Truth even when they lie. The worst (or the best) part of living in such strange times is that a rising trend in humor pokes fun at our own hypocrisies. Irony is as good as gold. What once was trash now is thought-provoking and laugh-riot-inciting treasure, and the idea has permeated into our holidays. Across the country, Ugly Holiday Sweater parties are becoming more and more commonplace. The key terms "Tacky Sweater Party" serve as one of the most popular trending topics on social media site Pinterest. Type "Tacky Sweater Party" into Google and you'll come back with over 32 million results in two tenths of a second.

Well, as the saying goes, any good turn deserves another, and the Canadians appear to have this mentality well-in-hand. According to Canada MSN, ugly Christmas sweaters have their own honorary day in the City of Vancouver, which the British Columbian municipality honors on December 20. The trend has also spread into parts of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. If you can believe it, reports show some vintage Christmas sweaters selling for as much as $200 on eBay. Thrift stores remain a popular place to find hideous Christmas sweaters worldwide, but prominent fashion outfitters are getting in on the act, too, and selling modern takes on the vintage fashion diatribe at retail cost. In Canada, there are even street vendors who try to capitalize on the craze.

Whereas the objective of having a lamentable Christmas sweater in the 1990s was to get home as fast as possible and change back into your Ghostbusters P.J.s or My Little Pony Princess gown, today the case seems to be the more vomit-inducing and sickeningly sweet, the better. Below are some of the worst Christmas sweaters I came across while doing research:
A lot of Yuletide going on in this one. Perhaps, too much? (
Tres chic? Or just tres..ashcan? (
How…Madonna? (
For the holiday intellectual, who wants you to know they understand the metaphysical concepts associated with Ugly Sweater Wearing. (
This person wasn't even trying, and that's the beauty of this simple yet elegant design. (
It's…Good? Also, no more booze for Frosty. (
The horror…the horror. (
This one gets a tid bit nipply, I've heard. (