Reykjavík prepares for Oslo Tree

17.11.2020 - 15:27
Mynd: RÚV - Guðmundur Bergkvist / RÚV - Guðmundur Bergkvist
Mayor of Reykjavík Dagur B. Eggertsson was this weekend filmed cutting down a tree in the Heiðmörk forest conservation area. The act was not random vandalism, however; it was the selection of the Oslo Christmas tree—Reykjavík’s most symbolic festive decoration that will stand on Austurvöllur, outside Alþingi and the Dómkirkjan cathedral.

The tree will be set up this week in preparation for the lighting ceremony on the first day of Advent; Sunday 29th November. This year’s tree is a 12.4-metre-tall Sitka spruce, believed to have been planted for the tenth anniversary of Heiðmörk, 60 years ago. 

It is not yet clear what the lighting ceremony will look like this year. The city plans to hold as traditional an Advent festival as possible, with pomp and ceremony, while still fully complying with COVID contagion prevention rules. The current ten-person assembly limit and two-metre rule are set to remain in place until 2nd December. 

It is already known, however, that the tree will be adorned with even more lights and decorations than usual, as the city joins municipalities around Iceland in putting on an extra spectacle this year to lift people’s spirits. 

The City of Oslo sent Reykjavík a Christmas tree every year since 1951. In recent years, the tradition has changed and the trees are no longer sent from Norway. While Icelandic, the trees are still nominally a gift from Oslo and the Norwegian ambassador dedicates the tree each year.  

The transport cost and carbon emissions are one reason for the change, but the other is that suitable large trees are now much more common than they once were in Iceland. In fact, the City of Reykjavík has been sending a Christmas tree to the Faroese capital of Torshavn every year since 2013, a move inspired by the financial and political support the Faroe Islands offered during the financial crisis of 2008-9. The Faroese capital will light the Reykjavík Christmas tree on Saturday 28th November. It is currently en-route aboard an Eimskip container ship. 

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