Britain’s first Christmas tree has appeared complete with tinsel and baubles – more than 100 days before December 25.
The fully-decorated fake 8ft fir was put up last week – as outdoor temperatures still touched 30C.
It stands by the reception desk at a tenpin bowling alley in Cambridge where it will remain for the next three and a half months.
Staff said they hoped the tree would encourage customers to think about using the venue for some of their Christmas fun.
But one irate visitor said it was ‘offensive’ and devalued Christmas by appearing so early.
Health worker John Rothwell was so angry at seeing the tree at the Cambridge Leisure complex he has fired off a letter of complaint to management.
He wrote: “Myself and my work colleagues went bowling last night for a team-building exercise, only to find some of your staff assembling a Christmas tree.
“I am absolutely disgusted. It is only just September, we haven’t even had autumn equinox yet.
“The tree was probably extremely offensive to people who do not have Christianity as their main religion.
“And please do not use the excuse that it’s to remind people to book their Xmas parties, that’s simply not true – a normal poster will work just as well, and will be a lot less offensive.”
Mum Jackie Irving, 39, from Huntingdon, Cambs., added: “It’s so sad that people have to start doing this so early.
“To me, it really spoils it.
“How is this teaching our children that it’s not about having the latest expensive toy and that Father Christmas brings you something, not Tesco or Argos.”
John Bridge, chief executive of Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, said the company was responding to customer demand.
He said: “To my mind these things are all customer-driven and shops mainly just respond to customer demand.
“Retailers would not do this if the customers were not buying.
“What people have to remember is that times have been tough for the retailers and the period between now and Christmas is the peak time for them.
“Anything that is positive for retail and in particular independent retailers must be good news.”
Tenterden Borough Council in Kent has also come under fire for erecting festive lights in the town centre – in AUGUST.