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School reverses gingerbread man ban

School reverses gingerbread man ban

Published: 09 Dec 2012 14:22 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Dec 2012 14:22 GMT+01:00

A 10-year-old was told he could not dress up as a gingerbread man at his school's traditional Lucia celebration as all references to the cookie had been banned in order to avoid offence.

News about the ban on gingerbread men, gingerbread cookies and gingerbread-themed songs at the school in Laxå in central Sweden spread like wildfire on social media.

Now it looks like the school has backtracked, with the municipality suggesting it was probably a misunderstanding.

According to the local Nerikes Allehanda (NA) newspaper, 10-year-old Mio Simic was told by a teacher that he could not be a gingerbread man in his school's annual Lucia celebration, a tradition that rivals Christmas in terms of the significance Swedes place on the holiday. It is celebrated in honour of the Catholic Saint Lucia on December 13th.

Schools mark the occasion with a morning procession where girls usually dress up as Lucia, donning white robes and wreaths of candles, while boys dress up as gingerbread men (pepparkaksgubbar), star boys (stjärngossar) or gnomes (tomtar).

Mio's mother, Jenny Simic, told Nerikes Allehanda that her son had come home from school one day and told her that he would not be allowed to dress up as a gingerbread man.

She called the school to see if it was true and was told that there would, indeed, be no gingerbread references as some may take offense.

"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 Simic.

"We are talking about children here. If everyone wants to dress up as Lucia or as gnomes, then let them."

She later sent an SMS to Mio's teacher to see if the ban still stood. She received the following 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."

Simic thought this was just a "rationalization" and not the real reason for removing gingerbread cookies.

She said a ban is counter-productive.

"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?"

After speaking to Marghareta Zetterlund, head of the children and education committee at Laxå municipality, the Expressen newspaper reported that it was all a misunderstanding.

Zetterlund told Expressen that the school's pupils and teachers had decided together which songs would be included in the celebration.

"The gingerbread man song was not chosen and so the teacher said then we won't have any gingerbread men," said Zetterlund.

Asked by NA to confirm this, Zetterlund said it was not exactly a misunderstanding but that the teacher in question had not reflected properly on the fact that some children may still want to dress up as gingerbread men, even if there would be no songs about the cookie.

Zetterlund had not seen the teacher's SMS to Jenny Simic and could not confirm whether or not potential offense-taking had been cited as a reason for the gingerbread ban.

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Your comments about this article

15:34 December 9, 2012 by Svensksmith
Were gingerbread people complaining?
18:51 December 9, 2012 by Migga
I don`t know what is more disturbing, the ban or the mothers thoughts about small children dressed in white is some Ku Klux Klan procession.
20:06 December 9, 2012 by StockholmSam
"10-year-old Mio Simic was told by a teacher that he could not be a gingerbread man in his school's annual Lucia celebration"

I suspect there is more to this story than meets the eye. I am thinking that the teacher was being cruel to Mio either because he is a brat in class or because he is an immigrant and when the school administration realized that this might snowball with press attention, they decided to make up some cock-n-bull story about it being a foregone conclusion that the gingerbread men would not be part of the festivities. They were about to get caught being prejudiced and decided to make up some BS to protect themselves. There is no reason whatsoever to prohibit gingerbread men in the Lucia celebration. Nobody is allergic to little boys dressed up as gingerbread men.
12:42 December 11, 2012 by chrisco
More evidence of the undercurrents.
02:13 December 17, 2012 by Freedaysaregooddays
"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 Simic

While any ban on kids dressing up as gingerbread men is absurd and needs to be kicked in the butt, I have to say what an arrogant woman Miss Simic sounds like.

Fancy living in a European country, and then refusing to let your kid dress up in their traditional costume, for something that is celebrated once a year, and because it somehow resembles a costume warn by a hate group on the other side of the planet 100 years ago.

People like Miss Simic are able to find racism in about anything these days. It is ridiculous. Attitudes like Simic's are sign of political correctness spiraling out of control. In our bid to be seen as opposing all forms of racism against non-whites, whites have inadvertently left themselves open to be criticized for being racist at every given opportunity, even when there is none to be found.

Tintin comics, Disney cartoons, Lucia costumes. What will we deem as racist next in Sweden? I vote the story of Casper the ghost, if I remember right he was all white and they do say that ghosts resemble KKK members!
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