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Christmas jumper
An example of a 1980s Christmas jumper

A Christmas jumper (also Christmas sweater) is a sweater themed with a Christmas or winter-style design, often worn during the festive season. They are often knitted. A more traditional approach is a roll neck (or "turtleneck") top-pulled garment. It can generally be said that embellishments such as tinsel, reindeer, or sparkles make a sweater "ugly," in terms of ugly sweaters.[1]


In the United Kingdom, Christmas jumpers became popular during the 1980s after a variety of television presenters such as Gyles Brandreth and Timmy Mallett began wearing them during the Christmas holidays. In particular, their popularity may be attributed to the influence of singers such as Andy Williams and Val Doonican, who appeared in these type of jumpers in their television Christmas specials.[2] In Ireland, The Late Late Show's host wears an extravagant jumper for the Christmas Late Late Toy Show.[3][4][5][6] They are often seen as a hand-made present knitted by an elderly relative that are given as a Christmas present.[7][8] During the 1990s and 2000s they were seen as gag gifts and fell out of favour[2] and featured as something to be embarrassed by as in the 2001 film Bridget Jones's Diary.[7] They gained camp appeal during the 2010s,[2] with online retailer Amazon reporting an increase in sales of 600% in 2011, and the trend has been followed by a number of celebrities.[9] Ugly Christmas Sweater Contests are held annually in the United States.[10]

Christmas jumpers and T-shirts in a British supermarket, 2016

In 2012, the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph described them as "this season's must have",[8] with retailer Topman selling 34 different designs alone and reporting sales had increased 54% compared to 2011.[8] Higher end fashion labels have also produced Christmas jumpers, including Burberry and Jil Sander,[8] and even metal band Slayer released one as part of their merchandise range.[11]

The charity Save the Children runs an annual Christmas Jumper Day each year in December using the slogan "Make the world better with a sweater". It encourages people to raise money for the charity by wearing their Christmas jumpers on a specific day.[12] The New York Times reported in 2012 that a major venue for sweater sales are independent company websites, with ugly-sweater themed names.[13]

Environmental charity Hubbub reported in 2019 that up to 95% of Christmas jumpers are made using plastic, and that two-fifths of them are worn only once. A spokeswoman for Hubbub described the Christmas jumper as "one of the worst examples of fast fashion" and urged people to "swap, buy second-hand or re-wear" rather than buy new.[14]


  1. ^ "Just Whose Idea Was the Ugly Christmas Sweater?".
  2. ^ a b c Epstein, Robert (16 December 2012). "Bring Modern: Christmas jumpers". The Independent. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  3. ^ Sweeney, Ken (29 November 2011). "Tubridy in stitches after Toy Show jumpers labelled a crime". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  4. ^ "Party through the pain". Irish Independent. Independent News & Media. 14 December 2006. Retrieved 15 November 2008.
  5. ^ Murphy, Claire (23 November 2009). "Toy show jumper dilemma for Ryan". Evening Herald. Independent News & Media. Archived from the original on 17 February 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2009.
  6. ^ Byrne, Gay (13 February 2010). "The chameleon of Montrose". The Irish Times. Irish Times Trust. Archived from the original on 18 November 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
  7. ^ a b Hickman, Leo (14 December 2012). "Show us your Christmas jumper – for Save the Children". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d Cumming, Ed (13 December 2012). "How Christmas jumpers came in from the cold". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  9. ^ "The big Christmas jumper comeback". The Daily Mirror. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  10. ^ "SLIDESHOW: FOX13 News Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest". WHBQ-TV. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  11. ^ "Slayer's new merch includes ugly Christmas jumper". NME. 21 November 2012. Archived from the original on 27 November 2012. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  12. ^ Gripper, Ann (14 December 2012). "#XmasJumperDay: UK wears its Christmas jumpers in aid of Save The Children". The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  13. ^ Guy Trebay (16 December 2012). "Bad Taste, All in Fun". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  14. ^ "Most Christmas jumpers contain plastic, environmental charity warns". BBC. 6 December 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2020.