Decking out a tree to celebrate Christmas is a tradition that has found its place not only within households around the world but throughout city centers as well.
While some cities choose to display a traditional evergreen, such as the magnificent Norway spruce in New York’s Rockefeller Center, others opt for a more modern fir, which isn’t always pretty.
Check out these seven cities that took nontraditional to the extreme and got it painfully wrong.
1. Berlin, Germany
Berlin is celebrated for its vibrant art scene and cutting-edge architecture, but sometimes even the most avant-garde city misses the mark. In 2011, Germany’s capital erected a 40-foot “Traffic Tree” in Breitscheidplatz that passers-by quickly renamed “Germany’s ugliest Christmas tree.” The scrappy tree featured traffic signs as well as fatigued, disfigured toys, and it spit fire from various outlets every 30 minutes. Luckily, Berlin abandoned the metal misfit and for the past two years has installed Christmas trees of the greener kind.
2. Milan, Italy
Take a look at this Christmas tree in the center of Italy’s fashion capital and it may appear unusually bare, but in this case, bare is better than the alternative. The Milan tree was previously adorned with R-rated decorations that weren’t exactly family-friendly and, as a result, lasted only a day. Milan city officials ordered the responsible party, who is said to have thought the racy ornaments elegant, to remove the décor for the sake of younger passers-by.
3. Brussels, Belgium
When a tree sparks a protest and an online petition, it’s a sign that it just wasn’t meant to be. This abstract Christmas tree earned a reputation last year after it was installed in Grand Place in Brussels. Traditionally, Belgium’s capital erects a pine tree each winter, but in 2012 the city decided to touch base with its eccentric side and went for the 82-foot cubed creation. While we appreciate the attempt, sometimes traditional is best.
4. Warsaw, Poland
Christmas is widely celebrated in predominantly Catholic Poland, and every year the country erects a beautifully decorated, top-of-the-line Christmas tree in its capital of Warsaw. Unfortunately, this year, Warsaw’s tree is more bottom-of-the-barrel than top-of-the-line. The plastic, cone-shaped tree – located in Castle Square – features an assortment of baubles attached to a fuzzy-looking plastic material and strangely resembles a piece of a severely pilled, ugly green sweater.
5. Nice, France
The radiant, multicultural city of Nice attracts large numbers of tourists year-round, but with a Christmas tree like this one, some of them may not stick around. At this point, it’s safe to say that cone-shaped Christmas trees more often than not result in fir faux pas, but what makes this tree especially terrible is the large cutout at the bottom. Although convenient for passers-by wanting to check out the inside of the tree, the hole does nothing for its appearance (and this tree needs all the help it can get).
6. Taipei, Taiwan
This may not be the worst Christmas tree on the list, but it definitely qualifies as one of the gaudiest. Although Taiwan doesn’t traditionally recognize Christmas, it does take part in decorating, and sometimes the result is unfortunate. This particular tree, near the Taipei 101 finance center, is adorned with so many oversized pearls that we’re not sure if that’s actually a tree under there. And let’s not overlook SpongeBob SquarePants, whose shocked expression matches our thoughts on the tree. Sadly, this isn’t the first time this area suffered from a Christmas tree mishap; last year it featured a silver cone-shaped tree adorned with vibrant-colored mannequin legs.