Hallmark – Wrecking the Halls

The calendar just flipped to November and already Hallmark is having a difficult holiday season.

This month Hallmark introduced a new 2013 Christmas ornament shaped like a tacky holiday sweater with a festive message: “Don we now our fun apparel!”  instead of “Don we now our gay apparel!”  The company made the change in order to avoid any association whatsoever with the meaning of the word gay, be it the past one (carefree) or the present one (homosexual).  But this has now put Hallmark in the unfamiliar position of having to defend one of its very own products.  And the company is getting hit from both sides on the change:

From the left – Our gay family will not be buying any Hallmark products or sending any Hallmark cards this holiday season.  And any Hallmark cards we do receive will be returned to the sender with an explanation.

From the right – You claim to be the keeper of traditional values, then you go and change the words to a century-old Christmas carol.  I am sick of this politically correct age, so this year, we will be shopping elsewhere.

The bottom line?  It appears that Hallmark, in an attempt to offend no one, has pretty much offended everyone.  Perhaps they should have chosen the lyric, Fa la la la la la la la, la – I don’t know of any group that would be upset with these words.  Well, perhaps opera singers.
Story Behind The Song

Fa, La, La, La, La, La, La, La, La

Imagine, it’s a cold, winter’s night in Wales around the year 1600.  In cities and towns throughout the country, people are gathering in meeting halls to celebrate the coming of the New Year.  The typical  place is decorated with green and red, logs are crackling in the fireplace, and partygoers are costumed in their most festive outfits.  The great highlight of the evening is the song-and-dance competition.  A harpist sits on a chair in the middle of the room and a group of people form a circle around the instrumentalist.  As the musician plays and the people dance, someone makes up the first line of a song.  Then the harpist plays a few notes to give the person next to that individual time to think up a corresponding rhyming lyric.  If the person can, they stay in the competition; but if they cannot, they are out of the contest.  This is how the song with its repetitive chorus originally came to be.  It was like early make-up-as-you-go modern rap.

Forward about 300 years to the late 1800s.  Welsh miners have immigrated to America and are working in the Appalachian Mountains.  Poor as can be, they continue the New Year’s Eve song-and-dance tradition – but with no harpist to play instrumentally while someone is trying to think up a lyric reply.  So what do they do?  They come up with, Fa la la la la la la la, as a substitute. Finally a Welshman by the name of John Hullam made up his own lyrics based upon what the event was like, and published it as a Christmas song.

But this song-and-dance format wasn’t limited to the worldly crowd.  Many  mountain churches adapted it for Christmas, telling the nativity story in joyous rhyme.