Greggs, the largest bakery chain in Britain, released the image of the sausage roll nestled in a straw-filled manger to help promote its $32 Advent calendar.

Share story

LONDON — A British bakery chain has apologized after creating a Nativity scene in which Baby Jesus, surrounded by three wise men, was replaced with a sausage roll.

And not just any sausage roll, but one that had been bitten into.

Greggs, the largest bakery chain in Britain, released the image of the sausage roll nestled in a straw-filled manger to help promote its $32 Advent calendar.

But no sooner had the image of the sausage-roll savior been published than consumers of all faiths took to Twitter to express moral indignation — and more than a few snickers.

Most Read Stories

Sale! Save up to 90% on subscriptions!

One woman observed that Jesus was Jewish and that pork was not kosher.

“Out of interest do you think the people at Greggs understand that Jesus was Jewish and serving up a pork sausage roll in the manger is unbelievably inappropriate?” the woman, identifying herself as Beth Rosenberg, wrote on Twitter.

Simon Richards, chief executive of The Freedom Association, a libertarian group, said the re-imagining of the infant Jesus as a fatty snack was “sick” and “anti-Christian.”

“Please boycott @GreggsOfficial to protest against its sick anti-Christian Advent Calendar,” he wrote on Twitter. “What cowards these people are: we all know that they would never dare insult other religions!”

Daniel Webster, a spokesman for the Evangelical Alliance of Britain, lamented in an interview by telephone Thursday that companies had long used Christian holidays to try to sell consumer items, from handbags to socks to beer. He said that he was not offended by the sausage roll, but that he believed that Jesus should be the focus of the Christmas season. The depiction of a holy and sacred man as processed meat, he added, was little more than “processed outrage to sell processed food.”

Greggs, which is based in Newcastle upon Tyne, has apologized.

“We’re really sorry to have caused any offense. This was never our intention,” a spokesman said.

While many people said they were offended by the image, it also prompted whimsy, delight, a poem and more than a few bad puns.

“I never thought I would see the sentence ‘Greggs sorry for replacing Jesus with sausage roll’. One of those moments that makes you glad to be alive,” Emma Weinbren, an editor at The Grocer, wrote on Twitter.

Greggs is not the only company to come under criticism for its approach to the Christmas holiday. The supermarket chain Tesco recently faced threats of a boycott because of an ad depicting families, including a Muslim one, celebrating Christmas.

Depictions of Jesus in art and popular culture have long attracted controversy and criticism. Jesus has variously been depicted as a crucified Ken doll; crucified on a Popsicle stick; and in a dress and high heels.

After Andres Serrano unveiled a photograph showing a crucified Jesus figure submerged in the artist’s urine, the work was kicked and hammered while on display at a museum in Australia in 1997. In 2014, protesters in Corsica stormed a museum where it was being shown.