London’s festive season will soon kick off in sustainable and Covid-restricted style as the iconic Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree has started its journey to London. The traditional annual gift from Norway to the UK will be the 74th in the series of trees donated by Oslo to London.
Oslo has sent a tree to the London every year since 1947 as token of gratitude, celebration and commemoration of Britain’s support during WW2 when the Norwegian government and royal family lived in exile in London from 1940 to 1945 during Norway’s occupation. The annual gift of a Christmas tree has come to symbolise the deep and long-lasting friendship between Norway and the UK.
The 80-year old, 23m tall Norwegian spruce was sourced from a PEFC-certified forest in Maridalen, Oslo. Weighing about two tonnes it is transported to London by road and sea. This year, in the light of Covid-19 restrictions, the spruce was felled in ‘secret’ with Oslo Mayor Marianne Borgen and the British Ambassador to Norway, Richard Wood, in attendance alongside three students from a local school and a few forest workers. The felling ceremony was deliberately low key to prevent the usual crowds of people showing up to witness the annual ceremony.
“The tradition comes from a dark time in Europe’s history,” said Ambassador Richard Wood. “When Norway and Great Britain fought together against tyranny. We are now fighting together against the coronavirus and for international co-operation. The Christmas tree does not just stand as a symbol of our shared history but also our lasting relationship. I’m sure the people of London will especially appreciate it this year.”
Oslo Mayor Marianne Borgen believes that the significance of the gift has become something much more, adding: “The tree is a symbol that we need each other. Now more than ever we need a bright spot and a reminder that we stand together. The gift to the people of London has been chosen and given with much love. And a lot of consideration. I hope it is accepted as a symbol of friendship, hope and peace.”
Being harvested from a PEFC-certified area ensures that the forest from which the tree has been taken is managed under strict controls and guidelines, to ensure that the forest and products leaving it are legal and sustainable. PEFC is a unique global certification system which works by endorsing national forest certification systems and with over 320 million hectares of certified forests across 47 countries, is the world’s largest forest certification system.
The annual lighting up ceremony will take place in Trafalgar Square will take place on 3rd December. The tree usually remains in Trafalgar Square until just before the Twelfth Night of Christmas, when it is taken down and recycled, being chipped and composted for mulch.