Berlin, like Rome, has run into difficulties this year with its Christmas tree. The metal, fire-belching tree on Breitscheidplatz has been called the ugliest in Germany.

It is made out of found objects, battered toys and discarded items, a hybrid of recycling and Arte Povera, designed by the 36-year old sculptor Thomas Plattner. Instead of a star at the top there are flamethrowers which light up every 30 minutes and in the interval the tree is illuminated by old traffic lights. The artist has said that it is a statement about the throwaway society.

However the tree, unlike its papier m