THE NORWEGIAN TREE
The Christmas tree that stands in Trafalgar square every is the traditional Christmas gift to the people of Britain
Every year since 1947 the city of Oslo in Norway has presented the city of Westminster, London with a christmas tree.
The first tree was a token of Norwegian appreciation of British friendship and support during the Second World War.
After the German forces invaded Norway in 1940, king Haakon vii was helped to escape Britain and a Norwegian government in exile was set up in London.
To the Norwegian people, London came to represent the spirit of freedom as during the dark days of occupation.
It was from London that the latest news was broadcast in Norwegian.
Also there were concealed messages for resistance groups where also broadcast at the same time.
The radio transmittion's became a life line for the Norwegian people.
The tree is a powerful symbol of the close and warm relationship between the peoples of Britain and Norway.
The Norwegians are as proud to present there token of friendship as are the people of Britain to receive it.
The tree is a Norwegian spruce and is chosen from the forests surrounding Oslo with great care.
A particular tree can be earmarked for Trafalgar square for anything from several months to a couple of years in advance.
The tree is usually 70 ft tall and in the region of 50 years old.
The Norwegian foresters responsible for its care describe it fondly as 'the queen of the forest'.
The tree is felled one day in November in the presence of the British ambassador to Norway and the mayor's of Oslo and Westminster they even take active part in the felling.
As part of the ceremony local schoolchildren sing Christmas carols and 'forest coffee' and sandwiches are served.
The tree is then shipped across the North Sea to England and then by special transport to Trafalgar square.
The operation to erect the tree takes several hours a scaffolding tower is erected so the tree can be winched upright.
The base of the trees trunk is pushed four feet into the ground and it is then secured with a dozen's of wooden wedges.
With no other form of support the tree stands unsupported again as it did in the forest.
The lighting ceremony takes place in the dusky early evening of the first Thursday in December.
A band play's loudly and a choir sings Christmas carols as the mayor of Westminster arrives with other officials in his party.
Then after due ceremony and a flick of a switch the Christmas tree comes alive, in line with Norwegian tradition all the lights are white; the tree turns into a twinkling mass of white lights.
Carols are sung by the choir of nearby St martin-in-the-fields, and carol concerts are held in the square.
A crib is provided by the vicar of St. Martin-in-the-fields and it is placed on the west side of the square.
The passing public may stop on their way home from work and join the carol singers every night until Christmas.