Hallmark Controversy: Removing The Word “Gay” From Christmas Carol


Hallmark, a world-renown greeting card company, released a new 2013 Keepsake ornament. The ornament is a Christmas sweater with an altered version of the lyrics to the Christmas carol, “Deck the Halls,” printed across it. Instead of the words, “Don we now our gay apparel,” the ornament reads, “Don we now our fun apparel.” I must admit, I shook my head when I first learned about this. 



A Hallmark Christmas ornament featuring a sweater with the words ”Don we now our fun apparel” is seen in an undated handout picture from Hallmark.



Hallmark’s spokeswoman Kristin Ernestine told The Huffington Post, “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 … 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.” 

Despite this, the change in lyrics offended many people. In a world where everything needs to be politically correct, I think we sometimes get carried away. In this case, the company drew attention to itself by changing the word from “gay” to “fun.” When the song was written, the word “gay” did mean festive or merry or happy. No one was offended by that word in the song and was, honestly, unnecessary. If Hallmark was so worried about creating a controversy, it could have just picked a different song. There are plenty of Christmas songs it could have chosen that are less controversial: “Jingle Bells,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Let It Snow,” “Feliz Navidad.” 

What do you think? Was the change necessary? Do we sometimes get carried away when trying not to offend people? For the full article, click here


2 responses to “Hallmark Controversy: Removing The Word “Gay” From Christmas Carol

  1. Hey Christina – great post; Hallmark’s decision to change the lyrics was clearly misguided. While I appreciate their sensitivity to the LGBTQ community, the song is so iconic that changing it just didn’t make sense. I think most reasonable people understand the meaning of the word “gay” in the context of the song. Many shoppers probably felt confused when they saw the sweater with the word “fun” instead of “gay”. It will be interesting to see how this ornament sells. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Ouch–what a way to bring undue negative attention to your brand. Why go around changing the long-accepted words to Christmas songs because you feel the need to play with semantics? Gay has two meanings. Lots of words have two meanings. I understand that semantics are constantly evolving, but I don’t see any real reason to reject a classically accepted meaning and play editor with an iconic holiday song. Hallmark should have known they wouldn’t be able to gracefully circumvent the question when asked why they object to the use of the word “gay,” and to me it amounts to nothing but an unnecessary headache for the brand.

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