Dagur B. Eggertsson, the new mayor of Reykjavík, says that the City of Oslo was not under any pressure to uphold the tradition of giving Reykjavík a Christmas tree to put on Austurvöllur square. He says, however, that it is great that the Norwegians have changed their minds, because the Christmas tree gift from the Norwegian capital is a beautiful sign of friendship.
There was uproar when Oslo mayor Fabian Stang declared this April that Rotterdam and Reykjavík would no longer be given trees every year, due to it being expensive, complicated and environmentally unfriendly.
This week the mayor and his city officials changed their mind and decided to keep up the tradition. Reykjavík will keep its tree, because the threat of its loss brought to light how important a symbol it is of bilateral friendship between Iceland and Norway. Stang told Norwegian press that he had not realized quite how popular the Oslo tree was in Iceland, RÚV reported.
Dagur B. Eggertsson responded to the news, saying the Norwegian decision had taken him pleasantly by surprise – adding that Norwegian officials had not been put under any pressure to continue the tree tradition. “We haven’t been in any contact with Oslo about the progress of this issue, as far as I know. I look at this as a beautiful mark of friendship from our old sister city. Although that tradition would have carried on, regardless of the tree.”
Dagur, who was born in Oslo, said that the City of Reykjavík was already in discussion with the local forestry organization to find a good tree. “We must now just say thanks and look into the matter. It is clear that the city officials in Oslo have found the debate worrisome and did not want it to stain them.” Dagur says he is sure Reykjavík will accept the Norwegian offer after council discussion. “But this news has only just arrived and there are still a few days until Christmas.”