Being expat

The Christmas jumper…

Since we are living in a highly international environment, I am constantly fascinated by the different cultures, beliefs, traditions and even though I think that I “get it” most of the times, there are – now and then – details that I want to understand.
So, there comes the British “tradition” of wearing Christmas jumpers.
Although I can understand that (some) children could have fun wearing such items, I wonder what drives grown-ups to do so…


It is only since the 1980’s that these jumpers became popular “after a variety of television presenters such as Giles 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” (Wikipedia).

Apparently they were (or still are?) intended as gag-gifts and are more something people would feel embarassed with. Just think of Mark wearing one in Bridged Jones Diary… But it seems to be a tradition to wear them and even offer them:  even Harry gets one from Ron’s mum for the first Christmas at Hogwards.

It seems to be a quite recent tradition. Christmas jumpers gained camp during the 2010s and Amazon reported an increase in sales of 600% (!) in 2011. Now, celebrities buy them and there seems to even be  “Christmas Sweater Contests” held annually in the United States, where it’s all about who has the ugliest Christmas sweaters.

After The Daily Telegraph described them as a “must have” of the season in 2012, retailers started offering a vaste variety of these items, and even higher end fashion labels produce them (including Burberry and Jil Sander…). Apparently 41% of the British population ownes a Christmas themed jumper and is convinced that they are appealing: “A great sense of humour is always attractive and it’s fantastic to see that the nation has finally put aside its embarrassment of festive knitwear and embraced quirky Christmas jumper wearing.” (DailyMail)

Personally, I prefer associating this relatively new tradition with a fund raising charity, like the Christmas Jumper Day, run by Save the Children  each year in December, where people raises money for the charity by wearing their Christmas jumpers on a specific day.

Is Christmas Pudding having a new ally, the Christmas Jumper?

What do you think about this tradition?
Do you maybe own a Christmas Jumper? Or do you know any other culture that has a similar tradition?

4 replies »

  1. I do not have a Christmas jumper!! Although my children do as there was a Christmas Jumper Day at school and my youngest loved her red robin jumper so much she wears it all year round. Now we are in South Africa it is going to be hard to wear it this Christmas though 🙂

    • Thank you, Clara, for your comment. I can imagine that children find it funny and love wearing so colourful jumpers. Somehow, when it’s related to a special day, it totally makes sense. In South Africa you may not need such a jumper right now, of course. What about a Christmas T-Shirt instead? – Just joking 😉

  2. Thanks, Ken – Now I’m curious to see yours, haha. Just one question: why exactly do you wear (or own) one? My son came home the other day and told me that one of his friend got a new Christmas jumper and he wanted to know what this was all about… I guess sooner or later one of my kids will ask for one too 😉

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