Oslo Wants to Nurture Reykjavík Relations Despite Tree Tussle

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Oslo Wants to Nurture Reykjavík Relations Despite Tree Tussle

By Alëx Elliott
Oslo Christmas Tree, Austurvöllur.

Photo: Visit Reykjavík.

The mayor of the Norwegian capital, Oslo says he does not want the traditions associated with the so-called Oslo Christmas tree in Reykjavík to die off following a proposal for Reykjavík’s main Christmas tree to be felled in Iceland this year, instead of being sent as a gift from Oslo. Proponents say this would be more environmentally sound, as well as being better for the tree itself.

A letter from Oslo mayor Fabian Stang, which was published in Morgunblaðið, states that Stang has written to his Reykjavík counterpart Jón Gnarr about how to maintain and improve the Oslo Christmas tree tradition in Reykjavík.

Norwegian news site Osloby.no reported last week that the City of Oslo is considering ending its tradition of giving a Christmas tree every year to the cities of Rotterdam and Reykjavík. The article explained that the transportation of the trees is both expensive and complicated. The annual Oslo tree gift to London will continue as before.

“We’ve only just heard about it and need time to look into the issue,” S. Björn Blöndal, assistant to the Mayor of Reykjavík, told Vísir.is last week. “We are going to talk about it with our Norwegian cousins and friends,” Björn added.

Mayor Stang notes in his letter that when Oslo first started giving Reykjavík a fir tree at Christmas, some 60 years ago, it was not least because large fir trees were very hard to find growing in or around Reykjavík.

“But now fir trees grow in Iceland and when changes take place in one area it can be wise to see whether changes for the better can be made in other areas as well,” Stang writes.

He says he has asked Jón Gnarr to investigate whether the Christmas tree could be felled in Iceland, possibly from a forest which was planted in co-operation with Norway.

“It is more environmentally friendly than transporting it a long way and coniferous trees can get damaged by long trips across the sea.”

Stang emphasizes in his letter that he wants to continue developing the co-operation and friendship between Reykjavík and Oslo.

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