Towns and cities throughout the country and the world will soon be adorning public squares and civic spaces with Christmas trees, festooned with lights and decorations, for everyone to enjoy in the run up to Christmas. The most famous in the UK is the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, one of the tallest and most photographed in the country. Have you ever wondered how this beautiful tree makes its way to central London every December?
Generally a 50-60 year old Norwegian Spruce, more than 20 metres tall, the tree has actually been donated to the people of Great Britain every year since 1947. An inscription at the bottom of tree reads:
This tree is given by the city of Oslo as a token of Norwegian gratitude to the people of London for their assistance during the years 1940-45.
The King of Norway and government-in-exile, plus many ordinary Norwegians, sought shelter in the UK from Nazi tyranny during the Second World War, and the tree stands as a symbol of thanks for that and the wider role the UK played in defeating Nazism in Norway during the conflict.
The tree is felled in Norway every November in a ceremony attended by the British Ambassador to Noway, the Mayor of Oslo and the Lord Mayor of Westminster, then transferred by road and sea to Trafalgar Square.
There it is decorated in the traditional Norwegian style with white lights and unveiled by the Lord Mayor in a show of lights and carols. So next time you're passing through Trafalgar Square in the back of a cab, on the number 15 bus or just strolling through, take a moment to remember the deeper meaning this festive tradition holds for the people of two long-time friends and allies.