A screenshot of Hallmark's new "Holiday Sweater" Keepsake Ornament, which tweaked the lyrics of a traditional Christmas song to omit the word "gay."
Out with "gay" and in with "fun."
Those are the directives from a popular card and keepsake company giving a centuries-old Christmas carol a modern makeover because without the change, the company said, the word’s multiple meanings "could leave our intent open to misinterpretation."
The 4-inch “Holiday Sweater" Keepsake Ornament in the shape of a thick, red Christmas pullover – replete with jingly bells across the chest – reads, “Don we now our FUN apparel!”
But as anyone familiar with the traditional tune knows, the original lyric is sung, “Don we now our gay apparel.”
The melody dates back at least 200 years and was written during an era when the term gay meant “festive, colorful or bright” and was synonymous with the cheer of a holiday season.
In recent decades, the definition of gay has shifted to relate to homosexuality.
Hallmark said it doesn’t want to spark confusion among modern customers.
"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," spokeswoman Kristin Ernsting said in a statement to NBC4.
"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."
It's not the first time the lyrics of "Deck the Halls" have been tweaked.
In 2011, a Michigan elementary school teacher censored the word "gay" from the carol because young students allegedly kept giggling during rehearsal, according to UpNorthLive.com, the digital component of a Michigan news station.
Hallmark’s website notes the $13 decoration will be available in October 2013.
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