By Kevin Murphy
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Hallmark Cards has apologized for changing a word in a well-known Christmas carol from "gay" to "fun" on a holiday ornament.
The Kansas City-based company created an ornament for its Keepsake line depicting a miniature sweater bearing the words "Don we now our fun apparel," instead of the lyric "Don we now our gay apparel" from the Christmas carol "Deck the Halls."
"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," Hallmark said in a Twitter posting on its website on Thursday.
"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," it said.
Hallmark did not say where negative reaction to the ornament came from, but a leader of one Kansas City gay rights organization said on Friday that the company went overboard in using the word "fun" on the ornament.
"The whole thing seems silly to us," said Mitch Levine, community ambassador of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of Kansas City. "No one was offended by that in the song and the change was not necessary."
Levine said he had received nine media calls about the ornament and wishes so much attention was given to more serious affronts to gays and lesbians, such as homophobic lyrics in some new songs.
In an earlier statement about the ornament, Hallmark said that when the lyrics to "Deck the Halls" were converted from Gaelic to English 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," Hallmark said.
It then explained its selection of the word "fun":
"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."
(Reporting By Kevin Murphy; Editing by Greg McCune and John Wallace)