Daily Mail (London), December 10, 2012
Schoolchildren in Sweden have been banned from dressing up as gingerbread men for a Christmas parade because their teachers fear the costumes could be considered racist.
Youngsters from a primary school in Laxa told their parents they had been ordered not to wear the outfits for the St Lucia celebrations on Thursday.
Traditionally, children dress as either St Lucia, or gnomes, stars, or gingerbread men for the candle-lit parade.
But heartbroken 10-year-old Mio Simiv was told he could not wear his gingerbread man costume to the celebration because it might be seen as ‘offensive’.
Angry mum Jenny Simic told local media: ‘I thought he had to have got it wrong so I called the school and they said people might find a brown gingerbread character offensive.
‘I said, well then my son won’t participate. He won’t support some Ku Klux Klan procession – because that’s what the little Lucias look like when they all come in with white hoods and white dresses.’
She later sent a text message to Mio’s teacher to see if the ban still stood.
She received the response: ‘I know what you think and what you’re writing. Unfortunately we have no gingerbread men or songs in our procession! We cannot offer gingerbread cookies because of allergies among pupils.’
A school spokesman blamed the row on a ‘misunderstanding’.
District schools head Marghareta Zetterlund claimed: ‘The children and their teachers chose the songs for the parade and they didn’t chose the gingerbread boy song, so there will be no gingerbread boys.
‘We don’t serve gingerbread cookies because of possible nut allergies. I can’t comment on who might find the costumes offensive,’ she added.
But Mrs Simiv said: ‘This is not what we were told at all. There was no misunderstanding, this is just an excuse.’
‘Why should they remove these things from a traditional celebration just because someone might be offended? You could turn that around and ask, “Why are we removing it? Aren’t brown people like us, or what? Can’t they participate?”‘