Hospital staff claim they were banned from handing out hot cross buns this Easter in case they upset non-Christians.
The decision disappointed patients at Poole Hospital in Dorset and angered catering staff.
In an email to their local paper, sent on Good Friday, catering staff said: ‘We the kitchen staff of Poole Hospital were disgusted to find that the patients were not getting hot cross buns this morning.
“The manager of the catering department said he was worried about the ethnic minorities that work here.”
The workers, who did not want to be named, said they had been inundated with calls from nurses on the wards asking why there were no buns this year.
Eventually hospital bosses relented and they were distributed on Easter Monday. A spokesman for Poole Hospital NHS Trust denied, however, that the absence of hot cross buns on Good Friday was anything to do with political correctness.
She claimed: “We do apologise to patients who missed out on their hot cross buns on Good Friday.
“This was due to an oversight by the catering manager who forgot to order them in time. It was nothing to do with religious beliefs.
“The buns were handed out on Easter Monday instead.”
Hot cross buns have been eaten on Good Friday for centuries.
They are believed by some historians to pre- date Christianity, although they were not called “hot cross buns” until the late 18th century.
They should contain no eggs or dairy products so those who are observing Lent in the traditional way are able to eat them.
This is not the first time they have been the source of controversy.
After the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century the English monarchy saw the buns as a symbol of Catholicism because they were baked from the consecrated dough used to make communion wafers.
But an attempt to ban them failed because they were so popular.
Queen Elizabeth I eventually passed a law permitting bakeries to sell them, but only at Easter and Christmas.
Representatives of other religions in the Poole area did not see any problem with serving the buns in hospital.
Rabbi Neil Amswych from the Bournemouth Reform Synagogue said: “I don’t eat hot cross buns for two reasons.
“One is that it is a Christian custom and the second reason is that I am on a diet.
“But I don’t see why they shouldn’t be available. After all, we’re in a Christian country and the state religion is Christianity.
“They shouldn’t be force-fed, but there is no reason why they shouldn’t be available.
“Perhaps they should offer other ethnic foods – that might be a nice gesture. They could offer latkes for the festival of Chanukah, which is in December. They are oily potato pancakes and very nice.”
There have been many examples of official bodies attempting to remove the religious message from Christian festivals in the name of political correctness.
Birmingham Council notoriously called its festive celebrations “Winterval” while Luton advertised its Christmas lights as “luminos”.
Christmas cards sent out by public bodies have, almost without exception, been stripped of any Christian references.
Last year’s Christmas stamps bore no trace of the Bible story.
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