The traditional festive Christmas jumper guide

The office jumper day. The work festive drinks evening. The family Boxing Day dinner. The Christmas jumper still has its novelty roots, however, in 2022 could we see them become a festive staple? We'll look at some of the most popular Christmas jumper options this season with an alternative angle, plus a very brief history of this trend over the years.

When is Christmas Jumper Day?

This year Christmas jumper day takes place on Friday 9th December 2022. It's usually a Friday in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Although it's not an official calendar event, it keeps getting bigger and bigger each year.

Christmas Jumper Day was initially started by Save the Children Charity on 14th December, 2012, and since then has seen viral adoption globally. Designed as a charity fundraiser focusing on being imaginative with your Christmas jumpers. You'll probably have found that a large selection of novelty Christmas jumpers available through popular highstreet stores are made from acrylic, nylon and other man-made materials that not only aren't as sustainable as we'd prefer but can cause allergic reactions and generally make you incredibly hot whilst wearing!

Traditional Christmas jumper styles

So our traditional Christmas jumper guide is a little different. We're not looking at throwaway novelty fashion options but more around traditional chunky woollen knits that can be worn year after year and still capture the magic of Christmas. In our eyes the absolute perfect festive choice would be a cashmere knit, it's incredibly difficult to create 100% pure cashmere jumpers and incorporate patterns and intricate yarn detailing.

Fairisle Christmas jumpers

Probably the most synonymous patterns are Fairisle Christmas jumpers. These traditional Scottish designs feature chunky knits and a variety of wintery tones. The classic crew neck and ribbed cuffs would be our top pick. The Fairisle is hardly a new trend. You'll probably discover some old family festive photographs with an auntie or uncle rocking a Fairisle by the tree. We always plump for jumpers made with natural yarn and cool hues for a festive event. 

Nordic Christmas jumpers

There's an overlap between styles of Fairisle and Nordic Christmas jumpers, with similar tones and woven techniques. However, the iconic Nordic knit descended from the jumpers worn by Scandinavian fishermen in the late 1890s. These hand-knitted jumpers were given local names such as Fanakofte and Setesdalskofte and generally displayed bands of geometric patterns in two tone or more colours, much alike to Fairisle. Enter the 1950's and the rise in popularity of travel, skiing and affluent tourism and the humble Nordic knit became iconic with celebrities and Alpine activites. Today, the Nordic or Alpine Christmas jumper is ever popular, especially when it comes to pairing with simple denim and big boots for apres-ski or winter activites in Europe and the US.  

Cowichan sweaters

Cowichan sweaters are woollen sweaters from the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The sweaters are made using "double knitting", resulting in a thick, warm fabric perfect for winter weather and icy low temperatures. The sweaters gained popularity in the early 20th century when they were worn by the British Royal Family members. Today, Cowichan sweaters are a popular choice as Christmas jumpers, with a nostalgic design yet practical warmth.

A very brief history of the Christmas jumper (as we now know it)

The first recorded instance of someone wearing a festive sweater dates back to the 19th century. In 1839, Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, commissioned a painting of the royal family celebrating Christmas. The resulting image, known as the First Family of England, shows the Royals gathered around a Christmas tree. Victoria and Albert's children are wearing matching red knit jumpers.

While it's unclear whether the jumpers were explicitly made for the painting or whether they were simply part of the children's everyday wardrobe, the image helped to popularise the idea of festive knitwear. In the early 20th century, Christmas jumpers became increasingly popular in the UK and Ireland. In the 1930s, jumper designs incorporated festive motifs such as reindeer, snowflakes, and holly. And by the 1950s, sweaters with these kinds of prints were commonplace with the influence of Nordic and Fairisle traditions.

Novelty Christmas jumpers & Mr Darcy

The novelty Christmas jumper found fame with the 2001 film Bridget Jones's Diary. We all know the scene. Colin Firth's character Mark Darcy donned a somewhat questionable reindeer polo neck Christmas jumper while swooning a glass of red. Many consider that this watershed moment started the decades of ugly novelty Christmas jumpers. 

These days, Christmas jumpers are more popular than ever. Every year, new designs and styles hit the shelves, and they're in sizes for every member of the family. Whether you love them or loathe them, there's no denying that Christmas jumpers are here to stay; however, if you're going to join this season, try to go for natural fibres and chunky knits. Follow our steps to care for your jumper and you'll be re-using it year after year.