We rise in defense of the Christmas sweater, a festive addition to the holiday that is unfairly maligned and ridiculed.

The web is full of sites promising “ugly Christmas sweaters” and even one promising “hilariously ugly Christmas sweaters.”

Let us be clear: In season they are not ugly; out of season is another matter altogether.

A young Norwegian, Lars Holdhus, collects Christmas sweaters. He has more than 100 of them and is seeking more, a hobby that prompted Britain’s The Sun newspaper to cruelly label him “a Christmas crackpot.”

Holdhus has a website, christmassweatercollection.com, on which he models 89 of them, so judge for yourself.

His sweaters are a representative gamut of that art form — reindeer, Santa Clauses, Christmas trees, wreaths, snowflakes, pastoral winter scenes, stockings, snowmen, cute animals, wrapped presents. Sometimes the sweater is embellished with small bells.

A current TV commercial features a man being ridiculed for his sweater, a black-and-white number featuring a cat on ice skates. His wife explains patiently, “Cats don’t skate.”

Oh, wrong, TV lady. Maybe not ice skates, but roller skates and skate boards.

Christmas is not the time to dwell on the literal; it is the season of fantasy, when reindeer fly and bulky sweaters do not make your butt look big, not if they’re of a really distracting design.

The Christmas sweater is much like the holiday itself — good humored; colorful, garish; over the top, even improbable — and it only comes around once a year.

An editorial by Dale McFeatters, Scripps Howard News Service