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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 18:10 GMT
Wave to the world
BBC News Online celebrated the season of good cheer in 2001 by installing a webcam on top of the Norwegian Christmas tree in London's Trafalgar Square.

The camera was live until the New Year when the tree was taken down.

While you can no longer see the view from tree, you can find out more about the venture and the story behind one of London's best known Christmas landmarks.

The story behind the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is based in traditional Christmas values of generosity and thanksgiving.

The webcam is perched on top of the tree
The webcam is perched on top of the tree

In 1940, King Haakon VII of Norway fled his country, driven out by Germany's invading forces. He found safety in Britain and set up a Norwegian government in exile.

At the end of the war, the Norwegians wanted to express their gratitude to Britain. They decided to send an annual gift of a majestic Norwegian spruce.

The first tree, given in 1947, was 48ft high and was presented to Britain two days before Christmas. It took four days to dig the six feet deep hole it needed in the middle of Trafalgar Square.

The view of Trafalgar Square
The view of Trafalgar Square
In recent years the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree has been as tall as 75 feet, but not much else has altered in the 50 year old tradition.

Each year the tree is selected by the head forester from the 17,500 hectares of Oslo's municipal forests.

It is then carefully cut down and transported to Oslo docks from where it begins its journey to Felixstowe.

The tree is crane-lifted into the now permanent setting in Trafalgar Square.

 Click here to watch the Christmas tree being erected in Trafalgar Square.
The tree is lifted into place
The tree is lifted into place

It is shrouded in its traditional Norwegian mantle of 500 white lights surmounted by a star which are turned on at a special ceremony attended by Norwegian Embassy guests and British officials and heralded by the choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields. The lights shine out every day from noon to midnight until Twelfth Night.

 Click here to watch the pictures of the tree cutting in Norway and lighting ceremony in London and a brief speech by the Crown Princess. On November 27, the Lord Mayor of London, accompanied by Princess Mette-Marit of Norway - helped cut down the giant spruce. On December the 6, the crown princess was at Trafalgar Square in London for the lighting-up ceremony.

In 1975, the programme Jim'll Fix It, arranged for one little girl to go to Norway to chop down the tree that would be brought over to London. Kathryn shouted "timber" as the tree was pulled down then came back to the UK to see it put up in Trafalgar Square.

 Click here to watch


See also:

21 Jul 99 | UK
Christ comes to Trafalgar
19 Jan 01 | UK
In defence of pigeons
31 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Banks gives Livingstone the bird
Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


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