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Club Chronicles: Get ready for ugly Christmas sweaters

The Christmas holidays are here, and it’s time to get those ugly Christmas sweaters ready for the season.

Dec. 18 – or every third Friday of December – people all over the nation trade their casual garments for something more festive for National Ugly Sweater Day.

Ugly Christmas sweaters started becoming popular in the ’50s with the mass commercialization of Christmas. They were known as Jingle Bell Sweaters and featured discrete Christmas-themed decorations.

The mass market of ugly sweaters made its purposeful debut in the ’80s. Popular character Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show made a fashion statement when he’d come into a scene wearing a gaudy, ugly sweater that was completely outrageous.

In 1989 Chevy Chase added his own twist to the theme as Clark Griswold in the “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” movie.

The ’90s were eager to get rid of the ugly sweater trend. However, around 2001, two men from Vancouver, Canada, came up with the idea to throw the first official tacky holiday sweater party to raise money for their friend’s cancer treatment.

The party was a hit, and its success spread throughout the northern hemisphere, paving the way for similar events. Ugly sweater parties went from small holiday get-togethers to huge events, club meetings and sometimes in support of charity.

Today, ugly sweater parties and competitions are one of the highlights of the season. With the rise of sweater-themed parties, guests young and old are rushing to top each other with the most frills, bows, and gauche decorations yet.

The sweaters have gone from accidentally tacky to purposefully shameless and are bigger than ever. Vintage stores, the Salvation Army and Goodwill are reaping the benefits of this craze, but the trend has reached as far as fast-fashion shops like H&M and high-end retailers such as Nordstrom and even Walmart.

The ugly Christmas sweater rouses an undeniably warm and fuzzy feeling as it conjures up memories of home and childhood. It’s also cozy and practical in chilly winter weather.  After all, holidays are often fraught with anxiety about the financial drain of gift-giving.

What better way to de-stress than to throw on an obnoxious sweater and have a laugh?