Norway considers call to send second Christmas tree after flood of criticism for Trafalgar Square spruce

‘We have to look through the tree to the symbolism,’ says Oslo mayor as she says proposal unlikely to pass

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 08 December 2021 11:03
Trafalgar Square Christmas tree lights switched on

Officials in Norway were deciding on Wednesday on whether to send a new Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square, following online mockery of the condition of the current centrepiece.

The Norwegian spruce has attracted criticism for looking somewhat the worse for wear after its journey across the North Sea.

Ungrateful Britons have described it as appearing “flea-bitten” and suggested its state might be revenge for the sacking of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as Manchester United manager.

Norway sends the UK a Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square every year as thanks for its attempts to defend the country from Nazi predations during the Second World War.

Councillors in Oslo were meeting on Wednesday to vote on budgetary matters – including whether to provide the funds for a new tree.

Norway’s gift tree stands in Trafalgar Square

The proposal was put forward by conservative representative Anne Haabeth Rygg, who suggested Oslo pay for a new tree to be felled in Britain, rather than having another one sent from Norway which might not arrive in time for Christmas.

However, the mayor of Oslo said she would not vote in favour and that the measure was unlikely to pass.

Marianne Borgen told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It will be voted down. There is no way it will get a majority in the city council.”

Ms Borgen said the existing tree was “not a Disney tree, not a plastic tree” but a specimen from a natural forest and that an uneven appearance was to be expected.

But she said she was not offended by the criticisms of internet keyboard warriors. She added: “This debate comes up from time to time and that is because people care.

“My experience is that people love this tradition ... It’s a token of our gratitude from the people of Oslo and Norway for the support we received from Britain during the Second World War.”

Ms Borgen said the 90-year-old tree “looked really beautiful and marvellous when we cut it down” but that some damage may have occurred during shipping.

“We have to look through the tree to the symbolism,” she added. “Of friendship, hope, and especially now, I think that traditions are so important and give us something to hold onto in times of insecurity.”

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