So much for glad tidings and good will – Oslo officials’ traditional gift of a Christmas tree for London’t Trafalgar Square was being ridiculed as everything from skinny to forlorn. Oslo Mayor Marianne Borgen, who was in London for its lighting this week, defended her city’s gift as “a genuine tree from a genuine forest” within Oslo’s city limits.
The tree was, as always, selected by city workers earlier this year and ceremoniously chopped down in one of Oslo’s many forested areas by both Borgen and her counterpart in London, Ruth Bush. Then the 66-foot tree was trucked on a special trailer to Larvik on Norway’s southern coast, shipped to Immingham in England and trucked on to London.
It was not warmly received on social media, with even a political adviser in the British Parliament wondering whether Britain had somehow offended the Norwegians, who apparently saved the best trees for everyone else. Some of Bush’s staff seemed embarrassed by criticism, telling local television that it was “sad” how people were so negative. The tree delivered from Oslo in 2016 was also criticized, with some saying it resembled a cucumber.
Borgen stressed that the tree is a symbol of Norway’s gratitude for British support during World War II, when Norway’s own government, king and crown prince were in exile in London. “The tree is very symbolic and important,” Borgen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Bush, meanwile, expressed gratitude for the gift.