GREGGS has apologised to anyone offended by publicity for its first Advent calendar which shows a sausage roll in a manger instead of the baby Jesus.

The North-East-based company is enabling fans of its sweet and savoury treats to enjoy something different each day as they countdown to Christmas 2017.

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Each door reveals a tear-off token that can be taken into Greggs’ shops and exchanged for items from the Christmas and wider menu, including the Festive Bake, flavoured lattes, sweet mince pie and a sausage roll.

On Christmas Eve, a £5 gift card sits behind door 24 – but some lucky customers will find a surprise £25 gift card.

A limited number of the calendars will go on sale in selected Greggs’ shops from Monday, November 20, until stocks last, priced at £24.

Among the publicity photos for the calendar are a Santa with pasty flakes on his beard, a Greggs shop in a snow globe and a steak bake on a festive table.

While the calendar has had a largely positive reaction, some people have been offended by the publicity surrounding it.

Simon Richards, CEO of the Freedom Association, called for a public protest.

He tweeted: "Please boycott @GreggsOfficial to protest against its sick anti-Christian Advent Calendar.

"What cowards these people are: we all know that they would never dare insult other religions!

"They should donate every penny of their profits to @salvationarmyuk."

Meanwhile, the Rev Mark Edwards of St Matthew's Church in Dinnington and St Cuthbert's Church in Brunswick said Greggs had been "disrespectful".

He said: "It goes beyond just commercialism, it's showing a total disregard and disrespect towards one of the greatest stories ever told, and I think people of all faiths will be offended by this."

As a result of complaints a Greggs spokeswoman told The Northern Echo: "We’re really sorry to have caused any offence, this was never our intention.”

Greggs say the calendar is worth between £35 and £60, and the vouchers can be redeemed in shops from December 1 up to and including Christmas Eve. Gift cards are valid for up to 12 months.

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