Every year Norway sends over a giant Norwegian spruce Christmas tree to their British friends. It is a symbol of Norwegian gratitude towards the United Kingdom for preserving Norwegian liberty. During the Second World War, King Haakon VII escaped to England as the Germans invaded Norway in 1940. This enabled the King to sustain the Norwegian government. The government headquarters was set up in London where the war news was broadcasted in Norwegian, along with messages and information that was vital to the resistance movement in Norway and gave the people hope and inspiration.
The Christmas tree is chosen with great care, usually many years before it is to be used. The foresters provide a lot of care for the tree, making sure it grows big and tall. They often describe the tree as the ‘Queen of the Forest’. After the tree has been carefully chopped and prepared, it makes its journey across the pond on a big barge and is eventually set in the middle of Trafalga Square.
A special Lighting of the Tree ceromony is held at the beginning of December. About 10,000 Londoners gather in Trafalga Square to participate in Christmas carols and to see the tree being lit. A nativity scene is placed on the west side of the square, which is dedicated at a special service on the Sunday after the lighting ceremony.
Throughout the Christmas Season Londoners visit Trafalgar Square to participate in the celebrations, sing carols and donate to charities.
Norwegian Christmas trees are also given to the cities of Coventry, Newcastle, Sunderland and Edinburgh, and also the Orkney Islands.