We’ve had a real eye opening experience over here this Christmas and I can sum it up in three simple words – the Christmas jumper. A jumper is what the English call a plain old ordinary sweater here. So basically, I am talking about ugly Christmas sweaters which have become more popular in the US over the past few years, but let me tell you, we have got nothing on the British and their love for the Christmas jumper!
If you’ve ever seen the movie Bridget Jones Diary, you may recall the scene where she meets up with the man who eventually wins her affection, Mark Darcy, at a family Christmas party and he is wearing a Rudolph Christmas jumper. Well, my friends, they are for real here in England and they aren’t just reserved for Ugly Christmas Sweater parties. They are everywhere! I see them at the grocery store, in window displays all over town, on shoppers at the mall in Derby, and Eric and his coworkers were even encouraged to wear them to work. The girls have Christmas jumper day at school today, but we had to substitute elf headbands instead as we were unprepared for the popularity of Christmas jumpers in the UK and don’t have any. At the Christmas market a couple weekends ago, we saw loads of people sporting these jumpers, including a group of young 20-something men who were obviously out for the evening enjoying the beer gardens at the Market. One young man’s Christmas jumper even lit up like a Christmas tree.
Once December hit, I started seeing so many of them that at first, I thought people were wearing them because they just really like their Christmas jumpers here. It makes you wonder when you see a grown man strolling through a Christmas market with his family in tow, none of whom are wearing jumpers, but he is wearing a sweater with a snowman on it that has a carrot nose protruding out a few inches from his chest. Could it be he’s just in a really festive mood and wants to enjoy it with his kids? Maybe. But that carrot nose – seriously? And then you walk by an older lady who is wandering the market alone with a squirrel dressed up for Christmas in a scarf and Santa hat on her jumper. She’s all by herself, probably has grandkids so again, maybe she’s just really feeling the spirit of Christmas. But that is a SQUIRREL on her sweater! She can’t be serious.
In doing a little research, I found out that the popularity of the Christmas jumper has seen a resurgence in the past few years here in England. They first became popular here in the 1980s when TV hosts started wearing them during the holiday season. They fell out of favor in the 1990s and turned into more of a gag gift item. But they're back now. In 2012, The Daily Telegraph described the Christmas jumper as “this season’s must have.” Even higher end fashion labels like Burberry are producing Christmas jumpers. Eric finally asked someone at work if these Christmas jumpers are for real or not. Turns out it is a joke, to some extent. From what we could gather, the British do think these Christmas jumpers are funny, but wearing them throughout the Christmas season has also become a huge tradition here in England. They like wearing them. So I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, the British find humor in them, but they aren’t going to stop wearing their beloved Christmas jumpers.
I hope I haven’t offended any of my English friends with this post about Christmas jumpers because quite honestly, I don’t care if they are a joke or for real or any combination in between. When I walk into the local coffee shop and the first thing I see is a grown man sitting by himself quietly sipping his cappuccino and reading the local paper with a bright red pom-pom Rudolph nose dangling from the front of his Christmas jumper, it makes me smile. It makes me feel good. It makes me giggle a bit, but in general, it fills me with Christmas cheer, and I’ll just bet that is exactly what he intended.
|Now that we know we need to shop early, maybe we'll invest in some Christmas jumpers next year. Elf headbands are cute too though!|