Icelandic Language Blog

Norwegian Wood – a Christmas Tree from Oslo. Posted by on Dec 4, 2012 in Icelandic culture, Icelandic customs

Even though I’ve been totally caught in the busy busy busy time of exam weeks I decided to take a small break from university assignments last Sunday and head downtown to Austurvellir where the Óslóartré’s Christmas lights were lit. Óslóartré means what it sounds like, it’s a Christmas tree that is sent from Oslo, Norway, to Reykjavík every year as a sign of friendship between the two cities. The tree is always set by the Parliament House and the lighting is a popular family occasion, there’s a choir and a band playing music on the side and at around 16.00 o’clock both the mayor and the Norwegian representative give speeches. I was surprised to hear that the Norwegian speech was actually in Norwegian!

Today the lights were turned on by a six year old Norwegian-Icelandic Jörundur Ísak Stefánsson.

Here’s the tree before the ceremony begins. By Icelandic standards it’s rather tall! It was still light at this point but during the half an hour of entertainment it got rapidly darker.

Inspired by Iceland had set their own little house on the corner of the square. There you can listen to old Icelandic Christmas stories and learn knitting taught by a master.

Some other trees already had their Christmas lights on.

Here’s a little someone I ran into by chance. Check the awesome sweater – this dog’s got style!

To be a bit more serious Icelandic wool is very warm and almost waterproof so it makes for good sweater material for both humans and animals alike. It may look somewhat snowless but in reality the day was chilly, so a sweater like this is the best thing a small dog could wish for. He seemed really happy. : )

Lights on! You can compare this photo to the previous one of the tree. The two are taken about half an hour apart and this is how quickly it gets dark in Iceland at this time of the year. The sun doesn’t as much set, rather it falls through the horizon in a swift arc. It took me about a half an hour to get back home and by that time the daylight was already gone.

The tree will now stand on Austurvellir all through December, at least if there won’t be too many demonstrations. Some years ago during the Kitchenware Revolution Reykjavíkians burned the Christmas tree sent from Oslo, which reminded our mayor Jón Gnarr to thank the Norwegian representative “for the firewood” before the lights were lit.

Here are some links to news about the Óslóartré:

Jörundur Ísak tendraði ljósin. Here’s a short video. You can practice counting down in Icelandic here!

Ljós tendruð á Óslóartré. Just a general bit of news with a couple of photos.

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About the Author: hulda

Hi, I'm Hulda, originally Finnish but now living in the suburbs of Reykjavík. I'm here to help you in any way I can if you're considering learning Icelandic. Nice to meet you!