"" Writer's Wanderings: The Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

Just as the tree in Rockefeller Center in New York City has become a symbol of the beginning of the Christmas holidays in the States, the lighting of the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square in London signals the beginning of the season there and happens about the same time.

The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree tradition dates back to 1947 when Norway gifted the city with a tree as a way to thank England for their help in World War II. The tradition has continued each year since with a Norwegian spruce chosen from a place near Oslo. It is usually about 20 meters high and 50-60 years old and is often chosen years in advance.

In November during a ceremony in which the Lord Mayor of Westminster, the British ambassador to Norway and the Mayor of Oslo participate the tree is cut. It is brought to the UK by sea, then completes its journey by lorry. A hydraulic crane is used to lift the tree into its place and it is decorated in traditional Norwegian fashion, with vertical strings of lights.

Caroling and other festivities take place throughout the season around the tree.

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