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.