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Electing the ‘leader of the tree world’

30.11.2021 - 13:10
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 Mynd: Sölvi Andrason - Rúv
So-called 'Christmas tree democracy' has reigned in Húsavík, northeast Iceland, for the past four years. Under the system, residents offer up trees on their property to be the official town Christmas tree, and residents then vote on which one to choose.

Using trees from people’s gardens is intended to help reduce the carbon footprint of transporting a tree, at the same time as tackling the problem of mature trees that are growing too tall for their surroundings.

Landslide victory 

Smári J. Lúðviksson, the head of environmental services at Norðurþing municipality, is in charge of the Húsavík Christmas tree vote and says: “The tree was chosen by vote. Each of the past four years, residents of Húsavík have offered up trees from their gardens and the town ten fells and takes the winning tree.” 

There were three trees on the ballot this year, and the winner took 180 votes out of the 200 cast. A landslide victory (even if voter turnout was low). 

Using local trees 

Smári says there are plenty of trees in Húsavík and surrounding areas. “There has been a lot of growth in town and there are very tall and big old spruces around here and as a result, some of these trees have got too big for home gardens and we are trying to enjoy them by using them as the town Christmas tree.” 

Children from the local pre- and primary schools sung and danced around the tree as the lights were turned on at the start of Advent on Sunday. 

The tree received the kids’ seal of approval, and Smári says the process of voting for the tree means most people are very pleased with it. “Now it is the residents themselves who choose the tree and if you are not happy with the tree that was chosen, you could have voted. It could be called Christmas tree democracy!” 

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Alexander Elliott
Fréttastofa RÚV