The History of the Ugly Christmas Sweater

In my opinion, nothing quite says Happy Holidays like an awful Christmas/ Hanukkah/ Kwanzaa/ Other Winter Holiday sweater. There are just so many great, ugly sweaters out there. For example, you could go with something simple, like a Harry Potter house-themed one.


Or something a little less family-friendly, like these uh… dancing-in-the-club reindeer.

Point is, ugly holiday-themed sweaters are In. They’re popular in movies, in TV shows, even to the point now that there are Ugly Christmas Sweater Runs, Ugly Christmas Sweater Giveaways (sorry if you missed it), and if you are currently a proud owner of an Ugly Christmas Sweater, BU Today wants you.

There are lots of different places on the internet or in real life to buy ugly Christmas sweaters, but one popular online seller of the awful holiday wear is

Their CEO and Founder, Fred Hajjar said they started the site in 2012 because he noticed more holiday parties with ugly Christmas sweaters happening each year. And each year, it just keeps getting more popular. But what exactly makes a sweater “ugly”?

“We feel the term ‘ugly’ for sweaters has come to encompass not just old style sweaters, such as those at the Salvation Army for example, but also newly designed sweaters that can have a classic or outgoing feel,” Hajjar said.

One of their newly designed and popular sweaters this year? Dabbing Santa.

So what happened in our past fashion history that has led us to embracing these hideous garments?

Well, a few different things. Some think it could have been Bill Cosby (#problematic) who got us into gaudy sweaters, and it snowballed (literally) from there. Or it might have been the designer of the Cosby sweaters, Koos Van Den Akker.

Or, maybe it’s a hipster, millennial thing, where we enjoy making fun of our parents for the kitschy things they wore and thought were cool in the 80s. Apparently multitudes of ugly sweaters, as Time reports, were manufactured under the name of “Jingle Bell Sweaters” in the era of Big Hair, but no one takes credit for them.

Even if you aren’t a fan of a dozen jingle bells rattling off your sweater with every step, you have to respect the trend. Like Hajjar said, “Everyone has a different opinion, but we feel it represents a sweater that makes you stand out and portrays your true holiday spirit.”

About Hallie Smith

Hallie (COM '17) is a journalism major from California. She is currently a health intern at Boston Magazine and editor-in-chief of the Quad. She can be reached at

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