Pop Culture dictionary

National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

[ nash-uh-nl uhg-lee kris-muhs swet-er dey ]

What does National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day mean?

Bundle up … in style?! The humorous, unofficial holiday of National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day falls on the third Friday of December every year. To participate, all that’s required is an ugly Christmas sweater. You know, the tacky knit one with the reindeer and snowmen your grandma gave you in 1987? Yeah, that one.

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Where does National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day come from?

Specimen: the ugly Christmas sweater. Associated with the 1980s, the ugly Christmas sweater is a heavy knit sweater featuring loud Christmas designs and colors, as if you put all of your Christmas into one piece of wearable wool. It’s like a Cosby sweater meets Santa meets your first-grade teacher.

While unfashionable, ugly Christmas sweaters have a lot of ironic charm. So much so that holiday parties, where guests wear their ugly sweaters, have been thrown since the early 2000s. Each year, stores even sell ugly sweaters in case guests don’t have relics from their past collecting mothballs in their closets.


And so National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day was started in 2011. It’s included on National Day Calendar, a website that keeps track of all those hyper-specific national days you see online. Each year, the National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day hashtag trends on social media while popular publications and media celebrate the ugly Christmas sweater.

The National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day website launched in 2012. It lists shops where one can get their own ugly sweater for the holiday. The website partners with the charity Save the Children for their “Make the World Better with a Sweater” campaign.

Examples of National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

A fun fact for National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day: Ancient civilizations in Peru first turned alpaca wool into warm clothing 6,000 years ago! So that sweater you're wearing? You're welcome. #LH4M #UglySweaterDay
@latinhistory101, December 15, 2017
National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day isn’t until December 21, but you can get a jump start on twinning with your favorite pet. This year, you and your dog can wear matching ugly holiday sweaters, just like style expert Clinton Kelly and his Jack Russell Terrier Mary.
Leah Ingram, Parade, November 6, 2018

Who uses National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day?

A lot of the appeal of National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day is getting to share your ugly sweaters on social media and wear them around the office or school. The tackier, kookier, the more Christmas-y the sweater? The greater the groans, the greater the appeal.

Even our furry friends can get in on the gaudy action.

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