• Sweden's news in English

School reverses gingerbread man ban

The Local · 9 Dec 2012, 14:22

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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.

Story continues below…

"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.

The Local/nr

Follow The Local on Twitter

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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!
Today's headlines
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Should Swedes think fairtrade with porn? Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/TT

A fairtrade attitude to pornography would be beneficial, Sweden's health minister told The Local.

Presented by Stockholm University
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Nordic fashion took centre stage in the Swedish capital last week as Stockholm University hosted the “first-ever” academic conference looking at luxury and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Referee, coach and parents in Swedish youth football fight
File photo of a referee holding a red card not related to the story. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

A football dad broke his leg in the brawl in front of 11-year-old kids after a Hammarby youth football game.

Swedish PM visits Iraq for talks on Isis
Stefan Löfven (left) and Haider al-Abadi (right). Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Stefan Löfven will discuss the offensive on Mosul with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Illicit abattoir kept more than 100 bulls' penises
A couple of young bulls not related to the story. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Dried cattle genitalia, goats' heads and hundreds of litres of lard were just a few of the many strange finds discovered when police raided a property in Sweden.

This is officially Sweden's most beautiful beard
The most beautiful beard in Sweden. Photo: Memo Göcek

According to a jury of barbers and 'well known bearded profiles', that is.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm

You might think it’s hard to make friends in a new city. But if at first you don’t succeed – try something else!

Injured Swedish photographer protected by 'guardian angel'
Swedish photographer Paul Hansen on another occasion. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Photographer Paul Hansen thanked his lucky stars for surviving sniper fire while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

How Sweden is trying to smooth relations with Saudis
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting Saudi Arabia's Trade Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has visited Saudi Arabia a year and a half after relations turned frosty in a major diplomatic row.

My Swedish Career
'Swedish people love it, but they find it quite odd'
Scottish entrepreneur William Macdonald. Photo: Michael Campanella

Meet the web developer and entrepreneur using traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing to break the ice with Swedes.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available