Christmas sweaters and sweats with endless snowmen, wreaths, Santas, Christmas trees, presents, reindeer and more; some consider them festive, others ugly.

Whichever word fits, the “ugly Christmas sweater” trend continues, welcomed by ugly sweater revelers of all ages.

No longer worn by only women, bright holiday sweaters are being sought out at stores, mothers’ closets, Goodwill. Some of the most prized are vintage, and the busier the better.

Nationally, ugly Christmas sweaters have been worn by recording artists Cee Lo Green, Snoop Dogg, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber and John Mayer.

Closer to home, the festive sweaters are everywhere.

This year, on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, Edward Little High student Jake Bazinet, 16, will leave his manhood behind and wear his ugly Christmas sweater — a bright green one with colorful dots, stripes, snowflakes and snowmen — to school for a contest. The $5 entry fee proceeds will go to the Dempsey Center.

In Lewiston, Kevin Morissette, 33, and friends wore their ugly Christmas sweaters to a party in December 2012. Morissette made his own, sort of.

“There definitely are some ugly sweaters out there, but I couldn’t find one on the shelf,” he said. He bought one and embellished it with holiday decorations from a dollar store. “It’s a great place to accessorize,” he said.

Wearing ugly Christmas sweaters is a way to continue the fun and creativity of dressing up at Halloween, Morissette said.

In Rumford, Red Hat Mommas of Western Maine members, women in their 70s and 80s with good senses of humor, held an ugly Christmas sweater party in December 2012.

“I’m bling; this is her redneck sweater,” said Dee Holman, 78, of Roxbury, standing next to Clarice Hodges. Hodges showed off her sweater, which she had decorated with ornaments and bows stuck on with electrical tape. “It took me a half an hour,” she bragged.

Hodges moved, and a ceramic ornament fell from her sweater, crashed and broke into pieces, prompting Hodges to smile and look for a broom.

Holman meticulously put together her bling ensemble. Her sweater had a black background covered with beads of all colors, ribbons, embroidered Christmas trees, presents, a wreath, a teddy bear, a fireplace and more.

She wore a red Santa hat, a purple turtleneck, and red-and-purple Christmas socks. (Red and purple are the uniform of the Red Hat Mommas of Western Maine, according to Co-Queen Rita Cunningham.)

What does Holman think of the term “ugly Christmas sweater?” It’s fun, she said. “I was watching Ellen DeGeneres. They had some way-out ones.”

Peggy Welch, 81, wore a sweater with “Ho Ho Ho” in large print and a big Santa. “My son bought this for me years ago. It’s been in the closet,” she said. Welch took it out for the party. “For this, it’s perfect.”

Mary Pulsifer of Peru pointed out that not everyone thinks holiday sweaters are ugly. “Ugly is in the eye of the beholder,” Pulsifer said. “What’s ugly to you may be beautiful to me.”

Her sweater featured snowmen, stars, beads, candy canes “and a little bit of lunch,” she joked. Pulsifer said she loves the trend. “It’s wonderful. Because one month once a year, everybody gets bright and colorful and enjoys what other people are wearing.”

Some parents and grandparents are being asked by children and grandchildren if they can borrow their sweater for a party.

Yes, Linda Barschdorf of Lisbon Falls told her daughter and friend. But when she found out they wanted her prized George Strait Christmas sweatshirts for an ugly sweater party, “I was mortified,” she said.

Barschdorf said she and her boyfriend have a collection of 20 or more George Strait Christmas sweatshirts. “He comes out with a new one every year. We have all of them. My sweatshirts are not ugly.”

She finds the trend amusing. “It adds to the Christmas spirit.”

One popular place to find a festive sweater is Goodwill. Last year, Goodwill Communications Manager Michelle Smith said her stores had noticed the demand. At some stores the sweaters and sweats are pulled out and displayed on a rack, making it easier for ugly Christmas sweater shoppers.

Smith said she’s careful not to offend. “We call them ‘holiday sweaters.’”

Ugly Christmas sweater contest

AUBURN — An ugly Christmas sweater contest will be held Friday, Dec. 20, at Edward Little High School for students and staff, Assistant Principal Steven Galway said.

The contest is being organized by sophomore Jake Bazinet, 16, to have fun, raise money for his class, and raise money to help needy families and children at Christmas.

Students and staff will wear their festive holiday sweaters or sweatshirts, donate $1 to enter and be judged.

The brief contest will be held at the school from 12:25 to 12:50 p.m., Galway said.

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