Oslo’s mayor and the British ambassador to Norway ceremoniously helped chop down a large Norwegian spruce tree on the outskirts of the capital this week, proving that at least some traditions are intact even during the Corona crisis. The tree, an annual gift from Oslo to the people of London during the Christmas holidays, is a symbol of Norwegians’ enduring gratitude for British help during World War II.
This year’s tree-cutting ceremony, however, was unusually low-key so that it wouldn’t attract any crowds. The annual event normally includes lots of school children, guests and spectators, but that would have violated the city’s own strict anti-infection measures this year.
Nor was there any snow to lend some holiday atmosphere, but Mayor Marianne Borgen stressed how the tree mostly is a symbol “that we need one another and must be there for one another.” Ambassador Richard Wood noted how Norway and Great Britain “fought together against tyranny” during World War II. and “now we’re fighting together against the Corona virus and for international cooperation.”
The roughly 80-year-old tree that measured 23 meters in height was being transported by truck from Oslo to Brevik, where it would be loaded on a ship and sent to Immingham, before being transported on to Trafalgar Square in London. Oslo officials were hoping for a better reception by the British this year, who complained last year that Oslo’s tree was skinny and looked like a cucumber.