If there's one thing that Germany does well, it's the festive season. But it might get a little less fun this year as one state issues a stern warning about the health risks of Christmas treats.
Health warning: spicy cookies can seriously damage your health
North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany' most populous state and one known for its love of a good party, this week issued a somewhat Scrooge-ish health warning guaranteed to put a damper on the Christmas spirit.
No more spicy cookies, it said -- they can cause liver damage.
Humbug! Yuletide in Germany is all about excessive consumption, especially of cinnamon cakes washed down with generous quantities of mulled wine. How dangerous can a "lebkuchen" be?
According to the consumer protection ministry in the state, often referred to by its initials NRW, very. It advised parents to curb their children's intake of cinnamon stars, because of an aromatic substance called cumarin which occurs naturally in the seasonal spice.
Homemade isn't always healthy
They can look, but they can't touch
The Federal Risk Assessment Agency (BFR) agreed, telling consumers: "Just because granny baked with it, doesn't mean it's harmless."
The agency advised parents to limit their children to three cinnamon stars a day and told adults not to indulge in more than 15 of the biscuits in one sitting.
What next? If everyone starts getting serious about Christmas, we won't even be able to put up a tree because of all the pesticides.
Forget merry - Christmas is now the season to be wary.