Saffron, do I really need it?

So I want to make medieval gingerbread for an upcoming event, I’ve been browsing modern recipes online and the all call for (or at least have an optional listing) of saffron. I know there’s no good substitute for this spice, but I’ve also heard that it’s only purpose may be to color the food reddish, or I’ve seen ginger listed as a possible substitute. The recipe I have is:

• 4 cups honey
• 1 lb. unseasoned bread crumbs
• 1 tbs. each ginger & cinnamon
• ½ tsp. ground white pepper
• pinch saffron
• few drops of red food coloring

Bring the honey to a boil and skim off any scum. Keeping the pan over very low heat, add the spices, adjusting the quantities to suit your taste. Add the food coloring “if you will have it red.” Then begin to slowly beat in the bread crumbs. Add just enough bread to achieve a thick, stiff, well-blended mass. Remove from the heat and turn the mixture onto a lightly greased (cooking spray works fine) square or rectangular baking sheet or shallow pan, ½ to 1 inch thick. Take a rolling pin & spread the gingerbread evenly out into the pan. Turn the pan over onto wax paper or parchment paper, & tap gently until the gingerbread falls from the pan. Turn the gingerbread over once again, then cut into small squares to serve. (A diamond shape is also very nice.) Decorate with small leaves (real or candy) attached to each piece with a clove.

So…do you think the saffron is necessary? Could I go without it?

KW, thanks for the advice regarding coloring. I never thought of that, though I have stayed away from the expensive saffron. Thanks!