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The History of Ugly Christmas Sweaters

What do comically large depictions of classic Christmas characters, tinsel, felt, and other tacky embellishments all have in common? They’re all used to create ugly Christmas sweaters! In today’s post, we’re going to take you on a brief tour of the interesting history behind ugly Christmas sweaters in the United States. When you’ve finished reading this post, head over to our online store to find everything you need to create an amazing, eye-catching display. We have chase light controllers, projectors, and an amazing selection of LED Christmas lights that will turn your home into a Christmas wonderland!

Where Did Ugly Christmas Sweaters Originate?

Ugly sweaters have technically been around since the late 19th Century, but it wasn’t until the 1950s that they really began to make their way into popular culture. The post-war America of the 1950s was a prosperous time for many suburban residents, and with Americans having more purchasing power than they had in previous years, retailers began to promote Christmas-themed clothing, decorations, and traditions (they also began to popularize some of Christmas’ most cherished figures — catch up on the fascinating history of Santa Claus in this post). Christmas sweaters were popular clothing choices for caroling and celebrating, and this is surely due to the fact that they were viewed without the lens of irony with which we look at them today. 

The 1980s saw a resurgence in Christmas sweaters, with Clark Griswold from the 1989 classic National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation showcasing a classic snowflake Christmas sweater. Christmas sweaters began to be associated with goofy dads who didn’t realize they were effectively becoming punchlines with their fashion choices.

Just like parties that celebrate the bright neon colors of the early 80s, seasonal Christmas parties encouraging attendees to wear the most atrocious sweaters they could find became popular in the early 2000s. Saturday Night Live had popularized tacky sweaters with a 2001 skit featuring Horatio Sans, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan, and Tracey Morgan all wearing matching Christmas outfits, signaling that ugly Christmas sweaters were indeed becoming a seasonal staple in our culture. In fact, December 15 is now National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day!

Many e-commerce sites featuring custom Christmas sweaters became wildly successful in the next decade, and today, you’ll find a wide range of sites offering everything from Christmas onesies to full suits that really capture the essence of the ugly sweater. Many of the high-end sweaters available today have depictions of LED Christmas lights, and we’re not ashamed to say that we’re fans!

Order Your LED Christmas Lights Today!

We hope that you have enjoyed this brief look into the history of Christmas sweaters in the United States. Even if you’re not going to be sporting an ugly sweater to a party or to the office, we hope that you’ll be adorning your home with Christmas lights and decorations that will give the entire neighborhood a warm season’s greeting. The Christmas Light Emporium has everything you need to create a magical Christmas light display this year — browse our catalog today!

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