“I am devastated and think they are crossing a line here. What are they celebrating at Fredriksdal? Is it just a commercial affair?” said church official Eva Åsare to local paper Helsingborgs Dagblad (HD).
When the planning for the Christmas market at Fredriksdal Gardens and Museums in Skåne County began several months ago, the organizers initially thought that the church's proposal of a nativity scene with children from two local congregations would be a nice addition to the market.
However, a few months into the planning, the church received an email saying that the nativity scene would be cut as the market wanted to safeguard its identity as a “politically and religiously independent operation”.
Åsare said that the decision is a sign of “blatant fear of religion” and that the decision opens for new questions:
“Are you allowed to sell a straw star - that's also a religious symbol? Are you allowed to sing Christian carols in concert? And what about the advent calendars?” Åsare asked the paper.
She finds it strange that a nativity scene would be considered out of place at a Christmas market, considering it depicts the reason Christmas is celebrated in Helsingborg, as well as many other parts of the world.
“No one would be forced to look at the nativity scene and I am pretty sure that many would like to be reminded of what happened in a stable in Bethlehem some 2,000 years ago.”
The cultural board of the local authority (Kulturnämnden) has promised to look into the matter, saying that perhaps they have been hasty in their decision:
“We will look at what it is they want to do. It doesn't mean they will get the go ahead, but that there is a chance,” said culture head Andrea Danielsson to the paper.