Today is National Christmas Jumper Day

by Ranim Elborai

It was a little over a month ago when I saw an ad in the tube for Britain’s National Christmas Jumper Day — an initiative by Save the Children, a well-established international charity, to raise money during the holiday season. The idea is to don some hideous Christmas-themed knitwear and donate £1.00 to charity while you’re at it.

Then you can tweet really cute or cringey photos of you and your officemates, friends, families and pets in all their Christmas glory and it’ll go up on Save the Children’s site.

BbWv_RGCUAANJxZA very photogenic Christmas Jumper Day participant.


This one is kind of cringe-inducing, because you can tell he thinks he’s all good looking and shit.

Some may look upon this day with well-deserved scepticism, but given this country’s love of kitschy woollens, this initiative has potential to bring in a lot of funds for needy children in Places Where Bad Things Are Happening. Which is pretty much almost everywhere, unfortunately, but I believe the focus this year will be on relief efforts in the Philippines and supplies for Syrian refugee camps.

Since Guy Fawkes Night (November 5th — a really horrible occasion to celebrate in my opinion, particularly if you happen to be a Catholic in Britain), Christmas retail has been in full swing here and that has meant countless variations on the concept of the Deadly Christmas Jumper, given everyone an opportunity to shine as a beacon of uniquely tacky holiday spirit.

Personally, I first encountered the concept of the kitschy Christmas jumper when I read Bridget Jones’ Diary as a thirteen-year-old girl. There’s that scene at the family holiday party where she bumps into the aloof Mark Darcy in his ridiculous novelty Christmas jumper, and there is much talk of how ludicrous he looked in it.

imagesI have to say that Colin Firth, as ‘Mark Darcy,’ still looks rather dashing in this admittedly idiotic sweater.

Was it then that the unbearable naffness that characterises the Christmas Jumper burrowed it’s way back into the British public’s heart? Or did the trend ride in on the back of the resurgence of the 80s and 90s in fashion and the hipster-backed reemergence of the Cosby Sweater?

images-1Bill Cosby, in a quinetessentially ‘Cosby Sweater’ sweater. I have raided my father’s own closet for variations thereof but the ones that survived the 1980s aren’t quite as colourful as Mr. Cosby’s. Also, the elastic on the wrists is all stretched out.

Then again it could have been Police Detective Sarah Lund’s penchant for fuzzy patterned knitwear that got everyone going here. The Killing, a Danish crime drama televised in the UK several years ago was a massive hit — and television has a knack for prompting trends.a The chunky knit quickly captured the hearts and minds of Britain’s television viewing public, and demand for the sweater soared, prompting one man to design a website devoted to selling said sweater.

Sarah-Lund-in-The-Killing-007The Danish cast of the TV show, with the detective sporting her most iconic jumper. Apparently every season marks the appearance of a new star jumper in Sarah Lund’s wardrobe.

Whatever its origins, I can see that people seem to be taking the call to rally behind the cause to heart. Why, just in my coffee shop alone I counted off 9 semi-Christmassy knitwear items and it’s early yet.b

If I worked somewhere that involved more contact with human beings, you can bet that number would be much higher.

I myself am wearing the ugliest woollen jumper in my closet today, an oversized black-and-cream monstrosity that looks like a primitive take on a Magic Eye illustration.

  1. Do note that in the US remake of The Killing, the knitwear was also part of it’s hit formula.  (back)
  2. Okay, it’s not that early actually, but only because I stayed up all night watching the first season of Scandal. For research purposes of course.  (back)