It’s enough to make a willow weep and a sycamore, well, sick.
Ever since 1947 the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree has marked the start of the festive season, bringing peace, joy and happiness to all mankind.
This year however, it’s all gone a little wrong.
The traditional spruce, a gift to the British people from Norway as a thank you for our support during the Second World War, has attracted rather less joy – and all too much derision.
This week the tree was erected in central London as normal, after an arduous journey from Oslo – only to attract utter scorn from passersby.
On social media critics barked their dismay, leaving them pining for a spruced up alternative.
Calum Mulligan, a parliamentary advisor, posted on Twitter that “the state of the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square this year [is the] most anaemic tree possible”.
He added: “Not sure what we did to upset the Norwegians but they seem to have saved their best and bushiest trees for everyone else.”
Another complainant posted: “If it were anymore sparse I’d call it a twig,” while a third said: “You look a bit thin.”
Someone else simply thought it was dead writing: “RIP”.
The tree, which has it’s own Twitter account run by Westminster council, hit back at those lumbering up for a fight.
The tree retorted: “Hmph! I thought I’d left the trolls behind in Norway! Yours Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree.”
Why the tree appears so unhealthy is not entirely clear. But yesterday Westminster council, which takes delivery of the Norwegian Spruce from the city council in Oslo, tried to get to the root of the problem and defended the choice of tree.
A council spokesman said the tree appeared less bushy because at 79 ft high, it was taller than usual due to its age. The first tree gifted by Norway stood at just 48ft, a third the height.
This year’s Trafalgar Square Tree is reckoned to be 90 years old and was selected for its proximity to the road in a forest close to a small lake named Trollvann which is Norwegian for “the water of the Trolls” just outside Oslo.
A council spokesman said: “It’s not sparse, it’s an 80ft tree but everyone expects it to be full of branches. “They don’t look like trees in your house that are only about 6 ft.
“They have to get a tree that’s sturdy, that’s going to be tall enough, it has to be near a road because you can’t pull a tree right from the centre of the forest.”
When the tree was felled in November, as it is every year, a group of British and Norwegian dignitaries attended a special ceremony where children from two schools sang carols.
To ensure the best tree was selected, it was singled out as having ‘potential’ a decade ago, with foresters said to “talk to the tree and hug it” to encourage it to grow.
Once cut down the tree was placed on the back of a truck and taken to Brevik, south of Oslo, where it was hoisted onto a ship for its journey across the North Sea.
So precious is it, the tree is not allowed to spend any time at dockside for fear the salty air will damage it.
From Brevik the ship docked at Immingham, on the Humber Estuary, before being driven to Trafalgar Square.
A second ceremony takes place today [Thursday] when the Christmas lights are switched on by the Lord Mayor of Westminster and the Mayor of Oslo with poetry performances, readings and the Salvation Army band.
They should be playing carols but some critics of this year’s tree might want them instead to perform the last rites.