Ugly-sweater ornament stirs controversy for Hallmark

Critics upset over changed lyrics, with 'fun' replacing 'gay'

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Greeting card giant Hallmark says it shouldn't have changed the lyrics to "Deck the Halls" on a new holiday ornament that's stirring customer backlash online.

The company took heat Thursday after it began selling a miniaturized version of a tacky holiday sweater. The ornament alters the carol's lyrics by removing the word "gay" and emblazoning the sweater with: "Don we now our FUN apparel!"

Critics took to social media, accusing Hallmark of making a political statement.

The Kansas City, Mo.-based company says it was surprised by the reaction and now realizes it shouldn't have changed the wording. But a spokeswoman says Hallmark won't stop selling the ornament.

Facebook commenters said they would never again buy Hallmark merchandise and that the change amounted to the company rewriting holiday classics in the name of political correctness.

Hallmark released a statement Wednesday saying the multiple meanings attached to the word "gay" meant the sweater's lyrics would be "open to misinterpretation."

"Hallmark created this year's Holiday Sweater ornament in the spirit of fun. When the lyrics to "Deck the Halls" were translated from Gaelic and published in English back in the 1800s, the word "gay" meant festive or merry. Today it has multiple meanings, which we thought could leave our intent open to misinterpretation," the statement read. "The trend of wearing festively decorated Christmas sweaters to parties is all about fun, and this ornament is intended to play into that, so the planning team decided to say what we meant: "fun." That's the spirit we intended and the spirit in which we hope ornament buyers will take it."