Edinburgh's Nativity scene replaced by a Johnnie Walker whisky advert for Hogmanay
Christmas tree gift from Norway cut down on December 27
TRADITION dictates that decorations can be left up for the 12 days of Christmas.
But no one appears to have told organisers of the Capital’s official festivities who already cut down the giant tree on the Mound.
Further outrage was sparked after a neighbouring Nativity sculpture scene was left lying prone on the grass - replaced by an advert for whisky brand Johnnie Walker.
Tory leader on Edinburgh City Council, Iain Whyte, said: “I have every sympathy for those who are upset by the removal of these traditional Christmas items - the Nativity scene, in particular, given it represents the point from Jesus’ birth for Christians through to the 12 days of Nativity.”
Cllr Whyte said he recalled years gone by when the tree was kept in situ into January - just as families do with trees in their own homes across the Capital.
“Having it put up later and removed earlier almost as an afterthought doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of Christmas,” he added.
Photos emerged on social media of the spruce - an annual gift from Norway - reduced to a sawn-off stump.
Hospital chaplain Mark Evans tweeted “What has happened to our Christmas Tree?
“The tree on the mound is a GIFT to the people of Edinburgh. Where is it and is this really an appropriate way to treat the nativity scene. Shame on you.”
A towering tree is donated to the Capital by the people of Norway every year as a thank you for efforts to help liberate the country during the Second World War.
The Nativity scene sculpture by artist Tim Chalk was donated by Sir Tom and Lady Farmer after being commissioned in 2003 to challenge people's conceptions of Christmas.
The 12 days of Christmas is the period celebrated in Christianity between the birth of Christ on December 25 and the coming of the three wise men, or Epiphany, on January 6.
Lord Provost Frank Ross and festival organisers sought to reassure residents there was nothing new in the swift clearance.
Cllr Ross tweeted: “The Hordaland tree was removed on the same date as last year (2018) and only after discussion and agreement of the Norwegians.”
A spokeswoman for Underbelly said: “The Christmas tree has been removed at the same time as in previous years in preparation for tomorrow’s Hogmanay event in the city centre.”
“The Nativity scene has previously been placed in St Andrew Square, but we decided to move it this year and the response to its move and the relocation of the Nativity Concert were very well received.
“We have been putting up and taking down the Nativity for 6 years now and always do so with the utmost care and respect.
“The figures are lifted carefully from the platform and put on the grass, set apart so they don’t damage each other, and soon after wrapped, packed in a storage box and taken into safe storage until the following year.”