Greetings card and ornament company Hallmark has issued an apology and withdrawn a sweater which contained lyrics from the Christmas song Deck the Halls, with the word “gay” omitted.

Hallmark found itself at the receiving end of a storm of criticism on Twitter yesterday, as it emerged that the sweatshirt contained the lyrics to the popular song, but had replaced the word “gay” with the word “fun”.

KCTV5 of Kansas City, where the company is based, pointed out the change in the $12.95 (£8.07) sweater, which was 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 company initially defended the decision to change the lyric, insisting that it was conscious that the definition of “gay” had changed since the song was written, and that it did so in order to avoid “misinterpretation”.

Late yesterday, however, Hallmark released another statement which read: “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.”

The jumper is no longer available in the Hallmark shop.