Hurray! The "Oslo" Tree Is Up! - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Hurray! The “Oslo” Tree Is Up!

Andie Fontaine
Photos by
Timothée Lambrecq

Despite being cut down right here in Iceland, old habits die hard and the grand Christmas tree in front of Parliament is still called “the Oslo tree”.

As Vísir reports, the tree will be lit on Sunday at 16:00, but was erected on Austurvöllur this morning. On Sunday, singers Svala and Friðrik Ómar will perform Christmas songs with a backing band, and Yule Lads will provide additional entertainment.

While the tree is repeatedly referred to as “the Oslo tree” in the article, it was actually grown and felled right here in Iceland. It is about 14.5 metres tall and is 50 years old.

Why “Oslo tree” then?

Originally, the Christmas tree raised at Austurvöllur would arrive by ship from Norway every year, a traditional that began in 1951. All that changed in 2014, when Norwegian authorities said it would be too expensive to send a tree that year. This prompted public outcry, such that the Oslo Business Council re-assessed the situation, and decided to send a tree after all.

However, that tree was torn down by high winds, and so was the one sent to Iceland the year after.

Since then, Christmas trees for Austurvöllur have been cut down in Heiðmörk, a wooded area in southwest Iceland. Even so, this tree is still referred to as “the Oslo tree”—even without the involvement of Norway.


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