Lla­mas be­come the hol­i­days’ new face

Quirky an­i­mal be­comes the cen­ter of at­ten­tion in briskly sell­ing hol­i­day-themed de­signs

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in New York

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”

PETR DAVID JOSEK / REUTERS

A young Czech girl feeds two lla­mas dis­played at a Christ­mas mar­ket in the me­dieval Old Town Square in Prague.

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