The Trafalgar Tree has been a gift to London from the people of Norway since 1947. It's given in recognition of Britain’s support during the Second World War when the Norwegian government and royal family lived in exile in London from 1940 to 1945 during Norway’s occupation. The annual gift of a Christmas tree has come to symbolise the deep and long-lasting friendship between Norway and the United Kingdom.
Last year, children from Oslo International School, Paddington Youth Enterprises (Trees4Xmas) in Paddington, London, and Norwegian primary school Nøkkelvann skole gathered in Oslo’s eastern forest on Wednesday 18 November to sing carols as they witnessed the felling of last year’s Trafalgar Square Christmas tree.
This year, Westminster Councillor, Barrie Taylor, will be taking two boys from Paddington Youth Enterprises to Oslo for the tree cutting ceremony. The Lord Mayor of Westminster, Steve Summers, will also be in attendance.
About the tree
The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is usually a Norwegian spruce (Picea abies) over 20 metres high and 50-60 years old. It is selected from the forests surrounding Oslo with great care several months, even years, in advance. The Norwegian foresters who look after it describe it fondly as 'the queen of the forest'.
The tree is felled in November during a ceremony in which the Lord Mayor of Westminster, the British ambassador to Norway and the Mayor of Oslo participate. It is brought to the UK by sea, then completes its journey by lorry. A specialist rigging team erects it in the square using a hydraulic crane. It is decorated in traditional Norwegian fashion, with vertical strings of lights. Energy-efficient light bulbs are used.
Recycling the tree
The Christmas tree remains in Trafalgar Square until just before the Twelfth Night of Christmas, when it is taken down for recycling. The tree is currently chipped and composted to make mulch, but Trees4Xmas have another exciting idea for the recycling process, which we're currently in talks about - so watch this space!
Blessing of the crib
You can join a torch-lit procession on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields, as the choir and clergy bless the Crib in a special ceremony. The Crib is designed by Tomoaki Suzuki with figures inspired by London’s diverse population. It will be on display in the square throughout December.
The Trafalgar Tree Lighting Ceremony takes place on December 1st, 2016, so do come along!