Thursday, October 20, 2005
Trafalgar Square (9): The Christmas tree
Don't worry, it's not Christmas yet (this is Trafalgar Square, not Tesco). But the world's most famous Christmas tree is erected right here every December, an annual free gift from the people of Oslo to the people of London in honour of the UK's unfailing support during the darkest days of WW2.
Here's the story of the 2005 Trafalgar Square tree:
i) (1950-ish) An insignificant pine cone takes root somewhere in the depths of a forest just outside Oslo. It grows up to become a seventy foot tall Norwegian spruce.
ii) Strapping Norwegian lumberjack-types tour darkly wooded areas in search of 'the queen of the forest' (that's the perfect tree, not the perfect woman).
iii) The chosen tree is cut down in the presence of the Lord Mayor of Westminster and the Mayor of Oslo. Carols are sung and the civic authorities serve 'forest coffee' and sandwiches.
iv) The tree is shipped across the North Sea by ferry to Immingham, then hauled by road to Trafalgar Square and lowered into a special 6ft-deep hole.
v) 500 white fairy lights are draped around the tree and a big star is placed on the top, ready for the grand switch-on ceremony at the start of December.
vi) Lots of brass bands, carol singers and cute kids in scarves stand at the foot of the tree for a month, making Londoners feel all lovely and Christmassy.
vii) On Twelfth Night the brass bands bugger off, the lights are extinguished and the tree is unceremoniously fed into a chipping machine to be recycled.
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