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Ugly Christmas Sweaters

The Hockey Sweater By Roch Carrier

The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier has been ingrained in the Canadian consciousness since its creation in 1979. The book and animated short speaks to a truly Canadian experience both on and off the ice. But how did Roch Carrier write this iconic story that resonates with so many people?

The Hockey Sweater Roch Carrier

With the surge of Quebec Nationalism in the 1970s, the CBC approached Roch Carrier, an acclaimed writer, to appear on the radio to explain to the nation “what Quebec wants”. Three days before the deadline, Carrier informed the CBC that he could not complete the project. But his appearance had already been promoted and the studio booked, so Roch frantically wrote a story about his youth. That story would become The Hockey Sweater.

The Hockey Sweater is based on a real life ordeal Roch experienced as a child. Growing up in Sainte-Justine, Quebec, Roch, idolized the Montreal Canadiens’ superstar Maurice “The Rocket” Richard.

Maurice Richard Montreal Canadiens
Maurice “The Rocket” Richard

When Roch’s mother sought to replace his old Montreal Canadiens sweater she accidently ordered the sweater of rival team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The young Roch was humiliated and shunned by his peers for wearing the sweater of the Maple Leafs. And the rest has become a part of Canadian history.

Roch Carrier Toronto Maple Leafs
Young Roch Carrier in his Toronto Maple Leafs sweater

Both Anglophone and Francophone audiences quickly regarded The Hockey Sweater as an iconic work of Canadian literature. The story was adapted into an animated short by the National Film Board of Canada ensuring generations of school children would be exposed to the tale.

The Hockey Sweater has since become a Canadian fixture receiving endless praise and countless prizes. Astronaut Robert Thirsk even took the book with him to space!

The Hockey Sweater went to space
Robert Thirsk presenting Roch Carrier with an out-of-this-world copy of The Hockey Sweater

In 2012, Roch Carrier performed The Hockey Sweater live in-concert with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Roch Carrier Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Roch Carrier performing with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra

A quote from The Hockey Sweater even appears on the Canadian 5 dollar bill!

Roch Carrier 5 dollar bill
The winters of my childhood were long, long seasons. We lived in three places – the school, the church and the skating rink – but our real life was on the skating rink.

We at Retro Festive would also like to honour The Hockey Sweater with our own Ugly Christmas NHL Sweaters. Whether you’re looking for an Ugly Montreal Canadiens Sweater or an Ugly Maple Leafs Sweater, we’ll make double sure you get the sweater you ordered! These are Ugly Hockey Sweaters you can be proud to wear!

Hockey Sweater


Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Ideas

Since Retro Festive started in 2007 we have watched the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party craze, which began in Canada, grow exponentially. Everybody has a tacky knitted sweater that their Great Aunt Clara made for them, but over the years people have been eager to step up their gaudy game.

Each and every December Canadians receive invitations to numerous Ugly Christmas Sweater parties, so here are some tips to make your party the ugliest!

Ugly Sweater Party
Merry Christmas from the Walker Family in Vancouver!

When hosting an Ugly Christmas Sweater party, feel free to let the tackiness extend to your party decor too! Maybe an Ugly Sweater Banner to spruce up your living room, or an Ugly Sweater serving plate in the kitchen to display your famous Christmas cookies.

Years before the Ugly Sweater party became a pop culture phenomenon, popular musicians were writing odes to their fuzzy sweater friends. Warm up your playlist with sweater songs like:

Sweater Song” – Hedley
Undone – The Sweater Song” – Weezer
The Sweater” – Meryn Cadell
Striped Sweater Song” – SpongeBob SquarePants

Naughty and Nice sweaters
Naughty and Nice Ugly Christmas Sweaters for partners!


Matching sweaters are great conversation pieces at events with a lot of visual distractions, like Ugly Sweater parties. Group and couple costumes are always a big hit at Halloween, so borrow that idea by wearing a “Naughty” sweater at your party, while your partner wears a “Nice” sweater, or rival NHL Ugly Christmas Sweaters, to get people talking.

Many Ugly Christmas Sweater parties also have contests for the best (worst?) sweater. Another way to make your outfit unique would be to add a funky hat or headband to your head. Hopefully it doesn’t get too big when you win the grand prize!

As a host or hostess of the Ugly Christmas Sweater party, you should be prepared to bestow the winner of the evening with ribbons or trophies for The Best, Most Tacky, Ugliest Sweater in the Universe! That way the winner can brag about their win for years to come with a major award to prove it!

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party winner
Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties have winners and losers. Mostly losers.

Now that you have all of these tacky tips under your belt, go on – GET UGLY!


It’s Not a Christmas Party Without Eggnog

Eggnog is a must if you’re throwing an Ugly Christmas sweater party, decorating your tree with loved ones, or just sitting around a fire looking for an excuse to drink! A true holiday party isn’t complete without a punch bowl full of that creamy, noggy goodness!

Guy with Eggnog

At Retro Festive, we encourage making generous portions of eggnog at your home for the entire month of December. Why? Because you never know who will drop by, and there should always be Eggnog.

Make this homemade Retro Festive eggnog and serve it in some Christmas Vacation Moose mugs, and you will most definitely be the local neighbourhood Christmas superhero.

Retro Festive Eggnog


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 pint whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 ounces bourbon
  • 1 1/4 ounces dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 egg whites


In the bowl of a stand mixer beat together the egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until the yolks lighten in color and the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, bourbon, rum, and nutmeg and stir to combine.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve.

* Raw Egg Warning
Use caution in consuming raw and lightly cooked eggs. We recommend you use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.

And for those looking for the quick and easy route:



Born in Canada: The Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

It’s hard to say who invented the garment affectionately known as the Ugly Christmas Sweater. Moms, school teachers and Bill Cosby have been sporting festive knitwear for decades. But when did Christmas Sweaters as a fashion choice make the jump from sincere to ironic?

You might be surprised to learn that the worldwide phenomenon began with two friends from Vancouver, Canada. Chris Boyd and Jordan Birch claim to have invented the concept of an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party back in 2002, when they held their first-annual tongue-in-cheek holiday party in their living room for a handful of their pals.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Guests
Ugly Christmas Sweater party guests at Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom.

The pair enlisted another friend, Scott Lindsay, to help plan the ultimate Christmas party, complete with candy canes, eggnog, Christmas carols, decorations and – you guessed it – tacky holiday sweaters!

By 2005, the party had outgrown their Coquitlam B.C. living room and was moved to a larger venue, attracting more than 400 people. Finally, in 2006 the celebration made its final move to Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom. It has remained there ever since, becoming an annual tradition for sell-out crowds. In fact, the original Ugly Sweater Party is widely considered the city’s hottest holiday event.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Founders
Chris Boyd (left) and Jordan Birch (right) in a 2012 photo by Metro News.

Best of all, the Party and spin-off initiatives have raised a ton of money for non-profit organizations such as The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. Birch and Boyd are proud of their legacy and what worldwide phenomenon they helped create.  They promote the motto: Be Ugly. Do Good. Connect. Give. Reconnect and Be Kind.

The ugly friends have even launched a National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day (the Friday before Christmas) and an Ugly Sweater 5K/10K run in both Vancouver and Toronto.


Emporium of Ugly Christmas Sweaters in Toronto / Oakville

Open every day til Christmas, starting Nov. 1st.  (See hours and directions, below)

If you’re in Toronto, the GTA or Southern Ontario and you’re in the market for an Ugly Christmas Sweater, then RetroFestive.ca in Oakville is the place to go!

Shop online or in-store every day til Christmas! RetroFestive has the largest selection of Ugly Christmas Sweaters in Canada. Plus Ugly Christmas Sweater Party decorations and supplies, garish jewelry and gaudy accessories. You’ll feel like a kid at Christmas!

E! Canada Visits Ugly Christmas Sweater Store in Oakville
Tyrone T-Rex Edwards and E! Canada explore the Ugly Sweater selection at RetroFestive.ca in Oakville. We gave them the scoop on why people go crazy for Ugly Christmas Sweaters!


Monday – Sunday: 9:00am – 5:00pm


1100 Invicta Drive, Unit #1, Oakville, ON, L6H 2K9