Norway’s Christmas tree gift gets London tongues wagging

By AFP
December 08, 2023

OSLO: Every year the city of Oslo donates a Christmas tree from its snowy forests to London as a thank you for Britain´s help during World War II, often to mixed and hilarious reviews.

After the Nazi invasion of Norway in 1940, King Haakon sought refuge in the British capital, and Oslo has expressed its thanks for the hospitality he received by gifting the city a Christmas spruce every year since 1947.

Oslo mayor Anne Lindboe, Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councilor Patricia McAllister, and the British ambassador to Norway, Jan Thompson fell off this year's Christmas tree for London in Soerkedalen, Norway, on November 24, 2023. — AFP

“It´s a token of our gratitude for the help that we received during the the Second World War,” Oslo mayor Anne Lindboe told AFP after taking an inaugural saw to this year´s tree at the end of November.

“But it´s also come to mean so much more. We are living in these really, really dark times and now I think the Christmas tree symbolises peace, standing together, friendship between cities.”

It may be a solidly planted friendship, but the gift does not always please its recipients. ´Shaggy´, ´scrawny´, ´anaemic´, and straight out ´ugly´ are some of the adjectives fit to print that have been used to criticise the various Norwegian spruces over the years.

British social media users took particular offence to the 2021 specimen. “Have we gone to war with Norway?” joked one. “One of those 5G masts disguised as a tree,” said another, while a third described it as “a half-plucked chicken.”