Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree

December 15, 2011 by staff 

Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, The soaring Norwegian spruce in London’s Trafalgar Square – it’s the most celebrated of all Christmas trees! When the Poetry Society and the Royal Norwegian Embassy invited me to be part of Look North More Often, their Christmas tree project, my heart leaped because glittering Norwegian threads have always woven in and out of my own life.

My mother was engaged to a pilot who flew risky missions to Norway during the second world war, and my Minnesotan wife is half-Norwegian. I’ve retold the racy, ice-bright myths of the Vikings and this year I published Bracelet of Bones, the first novel in a trilogy following a Viking girl on her journey from Norway to Constantinople.

Recently I joined three English primary school children, their teacher and several parties of Norwegian children in a silent forest outside Oslo – a magical place lit by silvery hoar-frost and the sheer voltage of everyone’s excitement. There we stared into a crackling pine fire until our eyeballs burned, we devoured bowls of stew, the children drank juices and the adults gulped coffee served from sooty, fire-blackened kettles. Then the singing began. We joined hands and swore lasting friendship (and meant it), and we all witnessed the felling of the glorious tree destined for Trafalgar Square.

This tree is 48 years old (10-year old Elijah and I counted the rings) and all but 30 metres tall. As a blond, bearded giant severed the tree from its roots, she didn’t crash sideways but was lifted heavenward by a vast crane. The massive branches bounced and slowly settled, and several people around me moaned before they cheered, conscious of death-in-life, life-in-death, while I found myself thinking of how Viking children once honoured the mighty ash tree, Yggdrasill, with its branches spreading out over the nine worlds of Norse mythology.

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