Greggs has apologised after publicity shots for its new ad campaign included a nativity scene in which baby Jesus is replaced by a sausage roll.

Photos promoting the baker’s new Advent calendar showed three wise men gathered round a manger in the traditional fashion but, rather than gazing in wonder at the son of God, their eyes fall upon a Greggs pastry.

The stunt was apparently meant to be taken in a light-hearted way but numerous people pointed out that the fresh take on the 2,000-year old scene could cause offence because Jesus was Jewish and eating pork is forbidden in the Jewish faith.

After the image appeared online, Beth Rosenberg tweeted: “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?”

While James Mather said: “I’m no prude, but equating Jesus, a Jew, to a sausage roll really is deeply offensive on all sorts of levels.”

Some people saw the funny side however:

The offending photograph was one of a number of publicity photos for the calendar, including a Santa with flakes of pastry in his beard, a Greggs shop in a snow globe and a woman puckering up to kiss what appears to be a chicken slice under the mistletoe.

Greggs said in a statement: “We’re really sorry to have caused any offence, this was never our intention.”

The Advent calendar goes on sale in selected Greggs outlets on Monday costing £24 and includes a £5 Greggs gift card on Christmas Eve.