The Oslo city council wants to end its decades-long tradition of providing Christmas trees to several European cities. The practice is becoming too expensive, too complicated and isn’t environmentally friendly, said Oslo’s Conservative (Høyre) Mayor Fabian Stang.
Oslo first sent a tree to Rotterdam in the Netherlands in 1950, to celebrate their ties of friendship and give some joy to the city which was ravaged during World War II. From 1951 Oslo also sent a tree to the Icelandic capital Reykjavik, because of the historical and cultural connections the two cities shared and the practical fact that at the time, Reykjavik had far fewer spruce trees than Oslo.
The trees have to undergo health checks, and the carrier that ships the huge spruce to Iceland said it will no longer do so free of charge. By ending the practice, Oslo stands to save NOK 180,000 (USD 30,000). “We want to maintain the long, nice tradition and will see what we can contribute to the two places’ lighting of their Christmas trees, for example a cultural performance or something similar,” Stang told newspaper Aftenposten.
Stang said he didn’t think ending the practice would damage Oslo’s relationship with Rotterdam and Reykjavik. He said the city planned to keep sending a tree to London. The tradition began as a gift thanking the UK for its help and support during World War II, and dates back to 1946.