Students at the school in Laxa, central Sweden, were disappointed that they would not be able to dress up as gingerbread men in the annual celebration meant to honor Catholic St. Lucy on Dec. 13, and so were their parents, including one who saw a racist undercurrent in the decision, The Local.se reported.
"I said, well then my son won't participate. He won't support some Ku Klux Klan procession -- because that's what it looks like when they all come in with white hoods and white dresses," said Jenny Simic, whose 10-year-old son Mio was told by a teacher he could not be a gingerbread man. "We are talking about children here. If everyone wants to dress up as Lucia or as gnomes, then let them."
Simic said she later messaged Mio's teacher asking why gingerbread men had been removed from the event, which usually features students dressing up as Lucia, donning white robes and wreaths of candles, while boys dress up as gingerbread men, star boys or gnomes.
The teacher replied: "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."
"Should you remove these things from a traditional celebration in order not to offend? Well then you could turn things around and ask: Why are we removing it? Aren't brown people like us, or what? Can't they participate?" Simic said.
Finally, Marghareta Zetterlund, head of the children and education committee in Laxa, cleared up the controversy saying it was all a misunderstanding, saying teachers and students voted on what acts to include in the celebration and one featuring gingerbread men didn't make the cut.
"The gingerbread man song was not chosen and so the teacher said that then we won't have any gingerbread men," said Zetterlund.