10 December 2021

The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree – thank you for being thankful, Norway

For the last few years, and especially so this year, I have been appalled to hear that people have been complaining that the wonderful Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square is "too sparse". Well, what a slap in the face for the Norwegians who have been sending a tree to us for over seventy years. I am glad to see that they won't be organising a replacement. See The Metro, 9Dec2021, right.

It's really ungrateful. This is not just a simple case of 'where's the receipt, can I get my money back?' and I suspect that most of these complainers have no idea the meaning, the effort and generosity behind this installation.

Since 1947, Norway has been donating a prime Norweigian Spruce, at least 20 metres high, to adorn our famous square, chosen by representatives of Oslo and Westminster from their lush forests. It is gifted to us as a thank you for assisiting them during WW2. The who process is a big logistics exercise, felling the tree and transporting it safely across land and sea. That's over seven decades of 'thank you's.

Once safely installed, the tree-lighting ceremony takes place at 6pm on the first Thursday of December every year (exc last year due to Covid-19 restrictions). There are speeches from Westminster council dignitairies and the Mayor of Oslo who last week was patently so delighted to be back in London again switching on the lights. I was there. Here's the before and after... 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

I wonder how many of the complainers were in the square that evening, enjoying this short but sweet ceremony and singing along with 'Once in Royal David's City'? I expect none. 

The tree is not sparse. In fact, it's an excellent example of its species. It's a fashion thing – people these days seem to want what I have heard on TV called "the traditional Christmas tree look" and by this they mean those dense little shrubby bushes, or the plastic equivalents. But this confuses me as surely a 'traditional' tree, from the Dickensian era, would be like the one set up by Victoria and Albert in 1841, right, with open branches, better to see all the pretty adorments.

I have also heard people complaining about the lights on the Trafalgar Square tree, how they are also disappointingly sparse. Well, dear people, they are hung in a traditional Norwegian fashion, with 14 strands falling from the top and I, for one, like how those strands fall nestle within the branches.

Thank you Norway. Some of us here don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

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Thanks, Jane