EASTER is the new Christmas. Not content with piling stores high with chocolate eggs, retailers are now offering "Easter trees" to decorate homes during the holiday.
Department store John Lewis and furnishings shop The Pier are among stores offering the trees, which are designed to sit on a table or sideboard and be festooned with decorations.
The Pier's version, 45cm in height, is available for 16 online, while John Lewis offers a variety of options. 20 will buy a shiny silver revolving tree which is 38cm tall. Meanwhile, a 45cm tree features glittered eggs on branches, and costs a rather more modest 8.
Easter trees are traditionally popular in Germany, where they are seen as symbolising the renewal of life at spring. Settlers took the tradition to the United States and it has now been imported from there to the UK.
John Lewis's online shop has sold out of its 8 Easter tree and its Easter crackers. Easter cards have been available for many years, and are particularly popular among churchgoers.
In addition to the trees, other offerings include Easter Bunny masks, balloons, spring flower "fairy lights", and Easter wreaths and garlands. However, the emergence of the Easter tree has been greeted with derision by some religious leaders.
Rev Cathy Galloway, the leader of the Iona Community, said: "Retailers are getting desperate. This cannot have anything to do with Easter.
"I can't see this catching on in a big way. It is over-commercialising Easter. For me, this symbolises the commodification of everything, and we are paying so much for really so little."
Rev David Robertson, of the Free Church of Scotland, said: "This has got nothing to do with Easter. It has nothing to do with the resurrection of Christ. It's just a way to make money. It's ridiculous and laughable. It brings to mind the image of Christ in the temple throwing out the money-changers and saying 'get out you thieves.'"
Environmentalists are also aggrieved. Dan Barlow, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "This is not in the spirit of Easter and it is over-commercialism.
"What we should be doing at this time is minimising our impact on the planet and we need to be consuming less rather than more things we don't need."
The Pier responded to the criticism of their Easter trees by pointing out: "We find they're selling well." John Lewis declined to respond.