US greetings card company Hallmark has come under heavy criticism for including lyrics from Christmas song Deck the Halls on a jumper, but omitting the word “gay”.

KCTV5 of Kansas City, where the company is based, pointed out the change in the $12.95 (£8.07) sweater, which is sold online on Hallmark’s website.

Rather than including the lyric from the song first sung in the 1800s, “Don we now our gay apparel”, the sweatshirt featured the line: “Don we now our fun apparel!”.

The jumper’s description reads: “When it comes to Christmas sweaters, gaudy can be good! Hang up this flashy sweater to make your tree’s outfit complete. With its catchy phrase, Don we now our FUN apparel! everyone will be in on the joke.”

Some took to Facebook to complain to Hallmark about the altered lyric. One wrote: “Changing the words to Christmas Carols – REALLY?” You can be sure that myself and many others won’t be buying your cards anymore.” Another said: “If you can’t be original then you are nothing at all.”

In a response to KCTV5, Hallmark said: “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. 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.”