Llamas become the holidays’ new face
Quirky animal becomes the center of attention in briskly selling holiday-themed designs
Happy Falalala-llamakkah, one and all. With Hanukkah and Christmas bumping together this year, a holiday theme for the ages is ready to go — llamas.
What do we mean? We mean cute and funky sweaters, T-shirts, holiday cards, wrapping paper and more showing off the cud-chewing pack animal for Christmas and Hanukkah, which begins the night of Dec. 24 this time around.
Oddly, the long-necked beast lends itself to holiday catchphrases for both: “Happy Llamadays” on a Christmas tree ornament with a little white one in a Santa cap, for instance, or “Fa-La-La Llama” on cards.
Looking to keep this quirky celebrant simple?
Jews can enjoy “Happy Llamakah!” instead on paper products and sweaters. How about the Hanukkah-blue sweater with a brown llama in black hat, ear holes included. Also, he’s sporting Hasidic sidelocks.
These festive outfits are definitely of the “ugly sweater” ilk, with a side order of hipster. And lest you wonder the difference between a llama and an alpaca, look no further than the Christmas T-shirt with tree and a beast apparently named Larry declaring “Not a llama (alpaca).”
Dude, you’re both camelids. Just sayin’.
Online sellers from Amazon to Zazzle are awash in holiday llamas ho-ho-ho-ing it up with antlers and Christmas lights, wreaths around their necks and wearing ugly sweaters of their own.
For Hanukkah, they’re also in yarmulke, urging fans to belt “Llamakah, oh Llamakah,” like the holiday classic. The Paper Source is selling blue-and-white Llamakah gift wrap with the animals in scarves toting menorahs and wrapped presents.
So where does all this lead? Well, directly to Barry Sellers in Manchester, England, for one.
He’s a 34-year-old artist who used to do street graffiti under the tag “llamaphish” using llamas or a gold- fish in an Army helmet, depending on his mood. Now, he’s selling a T-shirt of his own design in — count ‘em — 40 different colors with a goofy, bug-eyed llama as a Christmas tree itself, a topper star on his head, lights and garland wrapped around him, wishing all: “Fa lla lla lla llama.” Why, Barry, why? “To be honest I have no idea. I’ve always drawn llamas,” he says by phone Tuesday. “I think it’s their facial expression. They’ve got a real- ly funny face, almost condescending, like they’re laughing at you.”
He’s selling through the DIY site Teepublic at the moment, where designers upload their images for use on all sorts of stuff, including shirts, mugs, baby onesies and phone cases. He’s got plenty of company from others doing llamas.
“They’re just a funny animal,” Sellers says. “Even the name. It’s one of those words that’s just nice to say. It makes you laugh.”
Yasmeen Eldahan, 29, is a schoolteacher by day, a New Yorker living in Cairo, and a seller of all things llama at Zazzle on her own time. Why? Because they sell, she says via email.
“I suppose it has something to do with the quirky nature of llamas themselves,” Eldahan says. “They’re not traditionally cute, nor are they particularly cool. They’re unusual and humorous. And I think that appeals to people.”
She says she hasn’t branched out into Llamakkah items yet, “but I might consider it for future llamas!”
Andrew Sutton, head of operations for the site TipsyElves, where the sidelocked-llama sweater is sold, says one characteristic sets the animals apart: indifference.
“People absolutely love llamas because they live a carefree lifestyle,” he says. “They don’t desire any love in the first place.”
I’ve always drawn llamas. ... They’ve got a really funny face, almost condescending, like they’re laughing at you.” Barry Sellers, 34-year-old artist who made street graffiti under the tag “llamaphish”
A young Czech girl feeds two llamas displayed at a Christmas market in the medieval Old Town Square in Prague.