Hallmark says it has no plans to pull a Christmas sweater ornament that has sparked a Facebook debate, admitting that it was caught off kilter by the public's reaction when it switched the word "gay" to "fun" in a popular carol.
Facebook users inundated the greeting card company's social media page with disapproval about a holiday sweater with amended language "Don we now our fun apparel!" from the song "Deck the Halls."
One Facebook user asked Hallmark, "What are you afraid of? Why feel any compulsion to change the word 'gay' on a $12.95 ornament?" and continued to say, "In my view, you owe two formal apologies; one to the gay community, and one to Christmas celebrants who love and cherish the traditional about the holiday."
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A spokeswoman for Hallmark said the ornament has been available for sale in Hallmark Gold Crown stores since early October and is scheduled to be available online sometime next week.
Hallmark, a privately owned company based in Kansas City, Mo., tried to explain on Wednesday: "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."
Though the song is popularized in American pop culture, it has previously sparked controversy. Swapping the lyrics to the Christmas carol enraged some parents of an elementary school in Michigan that included the song in a winter concert in 2011.
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"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," Hallmark said.
But their explanation seemed to fuel the fire for more criticism, with hundreds more comments on Hallmark's Facebook posts, even attacking their Halloween greeting cards.
On Thursday, the company released another statement saying, "We've been surprised at the wide range of reactions expressed about the change of lyrics on this ornament, and we're sorry to have caused so much concern. We never intend to offend or make political statements with our products and in hindsight, we realize we shouldn't have changed the lyrics on the ornament."
Many Facebook users though defended Hallmark's ornament.
"This is so stupid," another Facebook user wrote on Hallmark's page. "Honestly, if they left the word gay on there, then people would have been up in arms about that. This is a classic example of damned if you do, damned if you don't. And the fact that people are getting so wound up over it is moronic. Here's a thought; if you don't like the ornament, don't buy it."