Christmas jumpers have increasingly become a staple tradition of Christmas time. The more traditional jumpers, knitted in two or more contrasting colours in geometric patterns, similar to fair isle knitwear, have been traced back to the hand knitted jumpers worn by Scandinavian fisherman from the late 1800’s.
It was once believed that fisherman’s jumpers were used to distinguish men from different communities who drowned at sea, based on the unique pattern of the jumper. However, this theory has now been debunked. Traditionally knitted from worsted yarn, a medium weight yarn, the jumper was a dense knitwear that provided protection from the turbulent weather out at sea.
Twentieth century technological advances made it easier to mass produce knitwear and the introduction of new synthetic yarns enabled knitted jumpers to be produced much more cheaply while being easier to customise. As the era of advertising dawned, knitwear featured heavily in Christmas adverts, connecting knitwear to Christmas and its gradual popularity can also be attributed to TV appearances through the 1970s and 1980s.
No longer confined to Christmas colours of red, white and green, the Christmas jumper is no longer characterised by the quintessential fishermen’s knitwear but has become the canvas for Christmas creativity, and more recently, has developed into a trend for ugly Christmas jumpers.
The reindeer roll neck worn by Mr Darcy in Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001), may be one of the Christmas jumper's most iconic moments. Although it did not impress Bridget Jones, it has remained iconic. Ugly Christmas jumpers have taken on a tradition of their own, showing no limits; 3D designs, fairy lights, bright colours, bold patterns and Christmas jokes. In contrast to the elegant fishermen jumpers of Scandianvia, the Christmas jumper has more recently been celebrated in ugly Christmas jumper parties where it is considered that the gaudier the better.
Whichever style makes you feel festive, Christmas jumpers continue to be a staple tradition of the festive period, with a wide variety to choose from; from more traditional Scandinavian style knitted jumpers to printed and characterised sweaters.
Written by Catherine Harris, Events Coordinator at Selvedge
We’d love to hear about your favourite festive jumper — let us know in the comments!
Members of our lovely Selvedge team have taken the time to write a festive blog post each for us this year. It's thanks to all their hard work that we're able to do what we do. Cheers to them!