London party

Oslo is trying to send a better Christmas tree to London this year

Stung by criticism over the appearance of the Christmas trees Oslo recently sent to London, senior officials in the Norwegian capital have made efforts to improve both its selection and transportation. All hope that this year’s tree, which was felled and sent over the weekend, will get a warmer welcome when it is lit in Trafalgar Square on December 1.

This year’s tree, selected as a gift to the people of London, was found in a forest northwest of downtown Oslo. PHOTO: Sturlason/Oslo Kommune

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the first Christmas tree sent to London in thanks for British support during the Second World War. Oslo Mayor Marianne Borgen of the Socialist Left Party (SV) thinks that with war in Europe it is more important than ever that Oslo sends a tree as a symbol of brotherhood and hope.

“In the times we live in now, which many find frightening, I think maintaining the traditions of friendship and gratitude has its own great value,” Borgen told the newspaper. Dagsavis earlier this fall.

She insists she hasn’t been bothered by criticism in London that trees sent in recent years have been seen as scrawny, lacking in branches and even looking like a cucumber. The discontent took off in the British media last year, when some jokingly wondered if Britain was at war with Norway, or even if Oslo was avenging the sacking of former Norwegian footballer Ole Gunnar Solskjær in as manager of Manchester United.

This year’s tree looked lush and healthy as it left the forest for London. Oslo officials hope that will still be the case when they arrive in Trafalgar Square. PHOTO: Sturlason/Oslo Kommune

Dagsavis noted in October that Oslo city officials were therefore taking action to secure the best tree they could find in the forests around the capital and improving its transportation to minimize damage. The journey itself from the Oslo Valley of Sørkedalen this year to London has been reduced by four days. The branches of the tree are tied in a net and the tree will be rinsed with fresh water before being loaded onto a ship in Brevik, to wash away road dust and salt used to melt ice and snow on Norwegian highways.

“I’ve always been involved in the felling of the tree in the forest and I’m in Trafalgar Square when the tree is lit,” Borgen said. Dagsavis. “Then we saw that the tree had suffered damage along the way. If we can prevent more branches from breaking, that would be great.

Oslo Mayor Marianne Borgen with Britain’s Ambassador to Norway Richard Wood at the tree-cutting ceremony on Saturday. PHOTO: Sturlason/Oslo Kommune

She dismissed last year’s complaint, but admitted ‘it’s not funny when people say the tree doesn’t look good’. Other city officials had also noted that the Norwegian Embassy in London had received “various views from the public on the tree”. Some of them were about “the form and fullness of the tree,” or the lack thereof.

On Saturday, Borgen, the Mayor of Westminster in London (where the tree will be displayed in Trafalgar Square) and the British Ambassador to Norway were all present for the annual tree-cutting ceremony in Sørkedalen Forest. The Norwegian spruce chosen this year is about 60 feet tall and looks lush and healthy.

“It’s an important tradition,” Borgen repeated. “The tree symbolizes friendship, solidarity and unity. In the difficult and uncertain times we are currently living in (after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia), it is important to maintain the traditions that create brotherhood and hope for the future.

The tree was then loaded into a cradle on a large truck bound for the port of Brevik, about 200 kilometers south of Oslo. From there it will be shipped to Immingham and then loaded onto another lorry for the journey to central London.

NewsinEnglish.no/Nina Berglund