In 1794, when “Deck the Halls” was written, if someone said they were having a “gay” time, it meant one thing: Happy. But just because the meaning of that word has changed in the intervening years, many Hallmark customers are not at all pleased that the greeting card company dropped the original “don we now our gay apparel” lyric in favor of “fun” for a new ugly holiday sweater Christmas ornament.
Facebook commentators took up arms against the company’s switch on Hallmark’s page, writing that Hallmark shouldn’t have changed the lyrics in the spirit of being politically correct — and besides, “gay” isn’t a dirty word, said others.
A sample of the outrage:
Don our fun apparel? That’ll be one product I’ll leave sitting on your shelf this year.
Shame on you Hallmark, better start figuring out what you’re going to do with all of those GAY sweaters when they don’t sell.
What’s the matter with Hallmark, changing the Christmas carol to “Don we now our FUN apparel”? Are you worried gays would flock in the thousands to buy your sweater so you’d run out of stock by, oh, November 2? You’re so silly.
“It’s OK to be GAY!! Fix your dumb ornament!”
Shame on you for the new Christmas ornament where you alter the words to ‘Deck the Halls”. It is not politically correct to do so, it is lunacy. Do we ban the word gay from the English language because today it has an additional meaning? Grow up people.
But Hallmark has defended itself by saying it just didn’t want anyone to be confused by which definition of the word “gay” it meant. Or something.
“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,” Hallmark writes in its history lesson/statement.
“Today it has multiple meanings, which we thought could leave our intent open to misinterpretation. 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.”
Instead of going with that one marketing meeting person who said: “Ooh! This Christmas carol has the word ‘apparel’ in it and we’re selling a sweater! Perfect!”, perhaps it might have been wiser to just assume that most people know that gay also used to mean merry, and go with another promotional tack.